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January 20, 2022



Slovak NGO reports that Romani children from excluded localities lack the online distance learning option

22.6.2020 8:46
PHOTO:  Eduroma (2020)
PHOTO: Eduroma (2020)

Online distance learning at nursery schools throughout Slovakia has not been accessed by children from marginalized Romani communities. That is the finding of a monitoring survey on such children in distance education during the novel coronavirus pandemic that was undertaken by Eduroma, an NGO working on access to education by Romani children.

From the responses to the survey given by nursery schools teachers it can be seen that immediately after the crisis broke out, they began above all to fulfill the role of field social workers or health care assistants tasked with the production and distribution of face masks and implementing health care outreach. "From their answers to our questionnaires we also discover that in most cases, the school establishers were not helpful or supportive to teachers during the implementation of the distance learning itself. On the other hand, the teachers did encounter support from nursery school management, who initiated the buying of missing teaching aids for impoverished children, loaned teachers the computer technology they lacked, or made it possible for teachers to print hard copies of worksheets," Eduroma reports.

During the beginning weeks of the crisis, teachers did their best to accumulate the telephone contact information they lacked and contacts on social media for the parents of the children in their classes and to resolve the dilemma of how to contact parents and what forms of collaboration could be undertaken with them during the pandemic. In addition, they dedicated time to finding different subjects that could be worked on with children at home.

"We are also discovering that nursery school teachers especially spent a great deal of time on preparing worksheets according to their school's educational program so they would be available on a daily basis," Eduroma reported. The NGO's findings reveal that children and parents who collaborated with teachers would frequently photograph the completed worksheets and send them to the teachers as important feedback about the child's progress.

"In the case of the families who were online, teachers organized groups through social media or communicated with the families by telephone or email. For the children who were offline, they send the worksheets to a community center that prints them and gives them to field social workers who deliver them to families' mail boxes," Eduroma reports.

In most cases, teachers agreed that full-fledged training for working with children from impoverished Romani communities had been offered to them during the last year above all by a national project called PRIM, which focuses on supporting the preschool education of children from marginalized Romani communities. Another opportunity for being educated to work with such children during the last year was reported by the teachers as being offered by the NGO sector, especially the Open Society Foundations and their program of financial education for impoverished children called Aflatoun.

fk, TASR, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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