Romania’s response within UNESCO's Global Education Coalition xx
Articol publicat pe 22-04-2020
UNESCO is the only UN agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of Education. In the context of COVID-19, to ensure continuing education for over one and a half billion pupils and students affected by the closure of schools in 165 countries, UNESCO has launched one of the largest education initiatives in the history of the Organization: the Global Education Coalition. This initiative brings together international, state and non-state actors, associated around a single goal: ensuring access to education for children and young people in all countries affected by the crisis.
The Global Coalition for Education is therefore an open, multi-sectoral partnership between United Nations agencies, other international organizations, the private sector and the civil society. The alliance includes major international entities such as UNICEF, International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, International Telecommunication Union, International Organization of La Francophonie, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Global Partnership for Education. They are joined by many business partners, especially involved in the technologies applicable in the educational field: Microsoft, GSMA, Google, Facebook, ZOOM, Coursera, Weidong, etc. Traditional UNESCO partners in cultural and humanitarian actions, such as Khan Academy, Profuturo, Sesame Street, are also involved in this Coalition.
At the beginning of March, UNESCO organized an online conference of education ministers from member states, a meeting attended by Romania's Ms. Monica Anisie. This conference set out the main directions of action:
- Mobilizing resources and implementing appropriate solutions to the various contexts of the Member States, to continue education using a variety of means;
- Identifying equitable solutions for universal access to education;
- Coordinating efforts and initiatives;
- Ensuring the return of young people to schools once the crisis is over, in order to avoid dropping out of school.
"Learning is a continuous process that we all must support, regardless of the special conditions in which we may temporarily find ourselves." - said Ms. Monica Anisie, Minister of Education and Research.
The Global Coalition for Education supports states in expanding their distance learning best practices and reaching children and young people who are most at risk. Equity is the primary concern, as school closings disproportionately hurt vulnerable and disadvantaged students, who rely on schools for a range of social services - health, nutrition, protection and emotional support.
Investment in distance learning should alleviate both the immediate disruption caused by COVID-19 and establish approaches for the development of more open and flexible education systems for the future.
One of the Coalition's concerns is to monitor the state of education systems globally, so that it can provide the public, specialists and policy makers with direct access to current, verified and accurate information.
Romania is one of the first states to order the measure of centralized closure of schools, at national level, and the implementation of alternative educational solutions, from a distance. The initiatives of the Ministry of Education and Research and its partners include:
- Digital on educred.ro (https://digital.educred.ro) - an online platform launched by the Ministry of Education and Research which centralizes different types of free digital resources and useful information, in view of supporting teachers in using the new technologies during the learning activities with pupils.
- Teleşcoala program (Teleschool) - a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Research and the Romanian National Television TVR, which offers courses to students of the VIIIth and XIIth grades, in order to prepare them for the upcoming national exams. The courses are available on TV and online (on Youtube, on the program's Facebook page, and on the websites www.tvr.ro and www.tvrplus.ro).
- The digital version of all school textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education and Research can be accessed and downloaded for free on a dedicated platform available at https://www.manuale.edu.ro/.
- Preparation tests have been published by the Ministry of Education and Research for the pupils taking national examinations this year, available at https://rocnee.eu/testeantrenament/ The tests were developed in collaboration with the National Centre for Evaluation and Examination, the national body responsible for the elaboration of national exam tests.
- A module of digital classes under the name of Naradix was launched in April, by the organization Narada, offering pupils, students and teachers courses on topics of interest held by business people, celebrities, well known trainers: social media, personal branding, personal development, technology, artificial intelligence, financial education. The digital classes are available on the Facebook Page and YouTube channel of Narada.
- Schools across the country are invited to access the suite of educational applications offered under free license by Google and Microsoft: G Suite for Education and Office 365 A1. Through these softwares, online courses can be organized, materials can be managed as course support, subjects can be graded in the virtual catalog, at the same time informing parents through automatic reports on the evolution of students in the classroom. In this approach, teachers are supported by the county level Teacher Training Centres and the e- learning experts of the national training project CRED, co-financed by the European Union, “Relevant Curriculum, education open to all”.
- The first line of free psychological counseling on COVID-19 for teachers, parents and students "Ambassador for the Community" was launched. Every week, psychologists talk to teachers, students and parents about the solutions that can be adopted to overcome the crisis generated by the pandemic. In this context, free psychological counseling, but also legal and social assistance are provided to the teaching staff, students and parents. Two telephone lines are available to which interested parties can call. There is also an email address where one can send questions to specialists, as well as a Facebook group. The project is carried out by the Proacta Edu Association, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Research, the Federation of Free Education Unions, the Federation of Parents' Associations - Pre-university Education, the Federation of Education Unions “Spiru Haret”, the National Council of Students and Zepelin Production.
- In partnership with the company Speakings, an integrated public speaking program for pupils and students in Romania was launched, aimed at developing their communication skills in public, as well as their organizing and structuring information skills.
- The webinars “Schools on the net”, initiated by 4 NGOs, supported by the company Kaufland, and in partnership with the Ministry of Education, are dedicated to teachers/school principals/inspectors, for sharing best practices on distance learning.
- The #ICare #HomeSchool campaign aims to convey to pupils, students and parents the encouragement to protect themselves from infection with the new COVID-19 coronavirus, avoiding crowded spaces as much as possible. At the same time, it is important for students to be aware that the learning process continues with home schooling through alternative solutions.
- The University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest (USAMV), through the USAMV Foundation, joins the initiative of the Ministry of Education and Research within the campaign #ICare #HomeSchool, with a project through which tablets connected to the internet will be donated to students from high schools located in disadvantaged communities.
- The Ministry of Education and Research has allocated 25 million lei (RON) to fund research projects on limiting the COVID-19 extension and combating the epidemic with the new coronavirus. The responsible and the supporting institutions are the Ministry of Health, the Romanian Space Agency, the Special Telecommunications Service, the Institute for Advanced Technologies, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The research topics are:
- Dynamics of SARS-COV-2 transmission in Romania;
- Development of new technologies, medicines and vaccines to prevent SARS-COV-2;
- SARS-COV-2 genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of circulating strains in Romania;
- Advanced techniques and increased performance in the early detection of SARS-COV-2 virus;
- Evaluation of the effectiveness and safety of using innovative treatment protocols;
- Innovative approaches in the treatment and control of patients infected with SARS-COV-2 virus;
- Advanced epidemic management techniques in the community;
- Approaches regarding public health management in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Integrated computer system for monitoring and epidemiological modeling to limit the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the case of community transmission;
- Solutions and systems for monitoring and aerial work in support of the public health system in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic using UAS systems;
- Developing innovative solutions for the protection of (professionally exposed) personnel and population against contamination with SARS-CoV-2 virus;
- Development of innovative solutions for decontamination against SARS-CoV-2 virus (surfaces, equipment, enclosures and open spaces);
- Devices for decontamination against SARS-CoV-2 virus (UV, microwave, X-ray, biochemical, nanoparticles, others);
- Development of prototype ventilators with parameters adapted to assist patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus;
- Emergency development of molecular tools for COVID-19 emergency and re-emergency assessment;
- Development of effective local and remote diagnostic technologies and systems for SARS-CoV-2 virus infection.