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“The Impact Of COVID-19 On Czech Education In The Present And Future”, by David Navrátil.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic changed teachers´, pupils´ and parents´ lives in my country very quickly and suddenly. It has turned the perception of our education system by 180 degrees. A question remains – how will the Czech education system cope with it and will it change the future of education in our country?

Of course, every pupil, teacher and parent reacted differently. And that's fine, that's a normal reaction to this kind of situation. Literally from one day to the next, we all had to change our thinking and habits. Teachers had to start thinking differently, they had to see the situation from many points of view, it was more than ever necessary to step out of their comfort zones. Nobody was prepared for this situation, but as I perceived teachers in my country, most colleagues have done it fantastically and I´m proud of them! Without indications from the ministry, without coherent instructions and decrees, schools set up their rules within a few hours, they were free to let their creativity and ideas flow to respond to this new situation.

The teachers faced up to the following questions - how to proceed with the education process? Who could help them and how? If they were alone, how to get out of it? It was a situation they had never experienced. Does it even make sense to continue teaching? Is it possible to teach without a daily contact with children? Of course, it must continue, they said! The teachers set out to not leave students alone! They assumed that children needed direction, certainty and goals to head for. All this in a context where the media didn´t inform people clearly and caused panic, broadcasting exaggerated reports, making children perceive scary news from all sides and slowly fell into depression, feeling confused and not knowing what to do, not understanding the essentials and not knowing how to preserve themselves. And the teachers teamed up and started working immediately, communicating electronically with the children, each in their own way. It was not and it is not very important what the children learn, it was important to communicate with them, not to overload them, but to motivate them to work, entertain them…

I´m sure this situation will change the Czech education system from the ground up.

There is no doubt that the closure of education facilities caused worries, confusion and frustration to pupils, parents and teachers. Teachers have been sent home and were thrown into a huge challenge – to the world of online teaching. They discovered Office 365, Google Classroom, MS Forms, Google Forms, Livesheets, Kahoots, Quizlets, different educational channels, vocational social networks and  in a few hours, they found out how it worked and started using it immediately. They started teaching online. The creativity and innovation were awesome. We are lucky that we live in a country where it´s easy, modern technology found its footing in teaching in many schools and also teachers with less or no experience in new technologies, used them to keep educating their students. In my country, it opened huge opportunities and I´m sure teachers will go on after the situation will be “normal” again. 

Almost all teachers took up the challenge, their reaction was amazing and they created a brand new system. To me, it´s obvious that their experiences during this COVID-19 period will be used in the future. I´m sure teachers and parents will include this experience into their lives and it will find its place in the education system. Most teachers found that online platforms can help them in their work and this crisis is a huge opportunity to move our education system to another level. The educational process won´t be the same again. Teachers were thrown into a world of online teaching and I´m sure the effect has been valuable: without this pandemic it would have lasted many years and would have been very expensive and still the effect wouldn´t have been so huge, the potential fully explored and teachers wouldn´t have understood why they should change their teaching habits, methods and how this could be positive. And that´s why we have to evaluate this period after reopening in the context of quality in education, also considering how to mitigate the possible negative effects of technology: data protection, teachers and students’ well-being, equity of access, etc. It´s a great opportunity to reflect on the way we teach and pick the best from the all the new ways we discovered.