The Teachers’ Union of Serbia reports educators have quickly adapted to distance teaching and learning, making the most of digital tools and using television broadcasts to ensure that all students have access to lessons while schools are closed because of the COVID-19 crisis. Efforts to continue education despite the crisis have received positive feedback from students and parents.
Since 17 March, the day after the state of emergency was declared in their country, teachers in Serbia have moved their work online. That’s according to Borka Visnic, International Cooperation Officer of the Teachers’ Union of Serbia.
All education institutions have closed – from preschool education, elementary and secondary schools, to vocational education and training and higher education institutions. However, online classes were prepared in a very short time, firstly for elementary schools, then for secondary, and vocational education and training schools. On 23 March, education delivered in minority languages and education for migrant children commenced. The higher education sector had already been organising online classes for students.
Classes were screened on two Serbian Broadcast Company TV channels, making them available for all children across the country. “It is of utmost importance to deliver lessons using TV channels for all people in all corners of the country, so that all students are put in an equal position and get the same quality of education,” Visnic underlined.
To prepare and deliver the lessons, teachers have been using all the knowledge and skills they received over the last few years in preparation for the digitalisation of education.
“The first feedback has been very positive from students and their parents,” Visnic highlighted. “Students consider this way of learning interesting and many parents become more engaged and aware of the importance of teaching and the teaching profession.”
However, teachers are under pressure to be available for all students and communicate not only after the classes but also using different learning platforms and social tools, she stressed. Overall, though, teachers are satisfied with how this method of education is functioning in practice.
To improve communication by using new technologies, it is necessary to supply all students with more new devices to avoid discrimination among students on the basis of different social background, she said.
Teachers are obliged to report daily on progress made and results obtained, following the outcomes of each student. “This will create a realistic basis for adequate evaluation of their work at the end of crisis,” she said.
For her, an important issue for teachers is their remuneration during this state-of-emergency period, and they have been reassured that they will receive the same salary as before.
As the safety of students and teachers is its most important concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Teachers’ Union of Serbia is in contact daily with members to provide them with support to overcome all issues arising from this difficult time, Visnic said.