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Remote learning was inaccessible to 20% of students in Armenia and 30% in the world

Remote learning in Armenia was inaccessible for 20% of students, according to the RA Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports. According to UNICEF, at least one third of children worldwide were deprived of distance learning when schools were closed.

 

According to the data provided to WomenNet.am by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, based on the information regularly received from the regions, the preliminary data based on the research conducted by the Education Inspectorate and IRI show that at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, 15-20% of the total number of students did not participate in remote learning due to the lack of technical devices and Internet access.

 

In the Ministry of Education and Science 2020 About 500 complaints were received due to lack of means of telecommunication or internet, about not participating in the remote learning implemented in the republic since March 16 of this year.

 

“In cooperation with all large, medium and small IT companies operating in Armenia, the ministry has set up a storage point, where technical means have been collected, sent to the regions of Armenia, to the municipality of Yerevan to provide to the citizens as needed. Within the framework of the implemented measures, about 3500 technical means were collected and provided to the schools. The technical means provided to the citizens were returned to the schools (except for mobile phones) at the end of the school year for re-use if necessary. At present, the number of pupils with problems with technical means and Internet access, according to the data in the School Management Information System, is 3,645. In order to clarify the complete list of students with such problems, schools continue to enter the relevant data, “informs Ministry.

 

It should be noted that the children left out of remote learning were provided with technical means by state bodies, as well as various international and local organizations.

 

According to the ministry, measures are being taken to find children left out of remote learning due to technical inaccessibility, to inventory the problems that arose during the above-mentioned period, in the new academic year, in case of remote learning, to provide systematic solutions as a matter of priority. On the initiative of the Ministry, the National Center for Educational Technologies organized consultations and lessons for students who dropped out of distance education on August 3-20.

 

They are waiting for the schools to reopen

 

There are only a few days left until the announced start of the school year, but the questions and uncertainties among school-age children, their parents and teachers not only remain, but also increase.

 

Although everyone welcomed the news of the resumption of classes on September 15, there is no guarantee that we will not return to online learning.

 

WomenNet.am found out as a result of a small survey among parents that most of them are not sure that the teaching process will continue for a long time under the defined conditions. These days they are very economically shopping, waiting for the schools to open and their concerns to be clarified.

 

Large families have had serious problems with remote learning and have not been able to provide all the children with the necessary technical equipment at the same time.

 

In general, the transition to remote learning was a necessary step, the education system was not ready for it from the beginning, as it requires perfect technology, computer software, high-quality Internet, trained teachers, e-materials, but all this was lacking or very little.

 

That is why UNICEF, calling on all countries to close the digital barrier and make remote learning accessible to every child, nevertheless considers the most important issue right now to be the safe reopening of schools.

 

UNICEF Report on Access to Remote Learning

 

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is calling for immediate action to close the digital divide, make remote learning accessible to every child and, most importantly, to reopen schools safely.

 

Ahead of the reopening of schools, UNICEF has released a new report that clearly addresses the disproportion between access to distance education. Online education was inaccessible to one-third of the world’s children.

 

“For at least 463 million children, the concept of remote learning did not exist when schools were closed due to the coronavirus. The fact that so many children have not been educated for months is a global educational crisis. “The consequences can be felt in the economy and in society for decades to come,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Faure.

 

Nearly 1.5 million schoolchildren were affected by the closure of schools at the height of the national-local blockade. The “Remote Learning Accessibility” report addresses the shortcomings of distance learning and emphasizes the level of service inaccessibility.

 

The report uses global analytical data from 100 countries on the availability of technologies and tools for remote learning in preschool, elementary and high school students. Data on access to television, radio, and the Internet, as well as the availability of appropriate educational programs for these platforms during school closures, are included.

 

Despite the already worrying data in the report, UNICEF warns that the picture could be worse. Even the availability of appropriate technologies and tools at home cannot guarantee that the child has the opportunity to learn remotely through these platforms. There may be other factors at home: when a child is forced to do housework, has to work, there are no favorable learning conditions at the time of online lessons.

 

The report presents significant inequalities between regions. Students suffer the most in sub-Saharan Africa ․ Here it was not possible to involve half of the students in the distance learning process.

 

The report also includes access data by age group․ In these crucial years for education and development, remote learning was not available to the youngest.

 

  • 70% of preschool children, i.e. 120 million children, cannot be provided with remote learning, mainly due to problems with online learning for young children, limitations, lack of remote learning programs for children of this age, and lack of tools for remote learning at home.

 

  • At least 29 percent of elementary school students, that is, 217 million students, cannot be reached. At least 24% of the lower middle school students, that is, 78 million children, have not been provided with remote learning.

 

  • The age group that misses remote learning the least is high school seniors. 18% of this age group, i.e. 48 million students, did not have the necessary technological means for distance learning.

 

UNICEF calls on governments to prioritize safe reopening of schools if the blockade is eased.

 

If this is not possible, UNICEF urges the use of “compensation mechanisms” in continuing education, reopening programs to make up for missed lessons. School reopening action plans and practice should include expanding access to education, including remote learning, especially for vulnerable groups. Education systems must be “adapted” to withstand future crises.

 

The UNICEF School Reopening Framework, developed jointly with UNESCO, UNHCR, the WTO and the World Bank, contains practical recommendations for national and local authorities. At the heart of the guide are policy reforms, funding, the safe reopening of schools, supplementing missed education, child welfare and protection, and reaching out to children in vulnerable groups.

 

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