BISHKEK (TCA) — To curb the spread of coronavirus, many countries have decided to close all schools, and universities and colleges are switching to distance learning.
At the COVID-19 outbreak, China was the only country to close its schools. Since then, over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries are affected by COVID-19 school closures, UNESCO reports.
In the age of advanced technology, a state of emergency is not a reason for disrupting the continuity of the learning process.
In Kyrgyzstan, which has so far reported 130 coronavirus cases, the Minister of Education and Science Kanybek Isakov on April 2 said that all schools and universities in the country will switch to distance learning starting from April 8.
The minister earlier ordered to organize the educational process through distance learning methods in higher and secondary vocational schools. The heads of educational institutions will daily monitor the educational process using distance learning technologies and online courses.
Due to the spread of the coronavirus, Kyrgyzstan’s schoolchildren have had early spring school holidays since March 21.
On March 24, the government announced a state of emergency and curfew in the country until April 15.
The Education Ministry has developed an action plan with the support of local companies and international organizations. Video lessons are broadcast by the local ElTR television channel. Video tutorials will also be posted on YouTube and a specially designed portal. E-library posted free training materials on various topics in Kyrgyz, Russian, Tajik and Uzbek languages.
Feedback with students is carried out via Zoom, Google classroom, Telegram, and WhatsApp. The Digital Learning portal will soon start operating on the ministry’s website, where training materials and special tests will be posted.
The Ministry is considering the possibility of passing final exams without attending school based on the results of remote training.
In Kyrgyzstan, 99 percent of educational institutions are connected to the Internet.
There are 66 higher educational institutions in the country, in which 168 thousand students study.
Students of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, without interrupting the learning process, continue to study online.
“Videoconferencing for groups is held every day except Sunday. According to the schedule, our teachers send us a link to connect, and we connect at the appointed time. During online classes, teachers show us their presentations and write as if on a blackboard. We ask questions. In general, full-fledged classes are held,” said Asel Kuvatova, an Academy student.
UNICEF welcomes the initiative of the Kyrgyz Government to introduce remote learning for children in Kyrgyzstan. This will minimize the impact of the temporary closure of education institutions and ensure ongoing learning for all children, the UNICEF statement says.
UNICEF is ready to work with the Government to have a solid plan in place to ensure continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio/TV broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential learning services for all children.
In Kazakhstan, which has reported more than 400 coronavirus cases, schoolchildren have been on vacation since March 16. The fourth quarter of the current academic year will begin on April 6, and students will study remotely.
The country's TV channels will broadcast lessons for students of all grades, Deputy Minister of Education and Science Sholpan Karinova said on her Facebook page on March 25.
To help children and teachers, educational television channels will broadcast lessons for students five days a week. More than two thousand television lessons will be prepared for them.
School administrations, methodological associations, and teachers are actively preparing for the transition to remote learning.
“A remote lesson is not the same forty-minute school lesson, because there are other approaches and principles. First of all, we ask parents to help their children learn teaching material in new conditions,” Karinova said.
The Ministry of Information and Public Development is developing distance learning mechanisms.
The state of emergency is in force in Kazakhstan until April 15.
In Uzbekistan, which has reported over 200 coronavirus cases, video lessons for students are broadcast on three television channels daily from March 30, Minister of Public Education of Uzbekistan Sherzod Shermatov said.
Online school lessons will also be posted on the Ministry’s website and its Telegram and Facebook pages. The Ministry’s website has a list of online resources where students can find lessons.
Teachers now have to master new electronic opportunities, but they also have an increased load, Sputnik Uzbekistan news agency reported. Teachers have limited control over students, and they cannot conduct online lessons for a group of students but only individually.
The Uzbekistan telecommunication company, Uztelecom, is currently developing a special platform for holding online conferences. When it works, teachers will be able to conduct full-fledged online classes for students.
The country's pre-school, secondary and higher educational institutions have been closed since March 16.
Tajikistan and Turkmenistan
Tajikistan and Turkmenistan remain among the countries where no Covid-19 cases have been reported.
While neighboring countries have introduced an emergency regime and curfew, as well as quarantine in schools due to the spread of coronavirus, Tajikistan has not yet taken such measures, local media report. The country’s borders are closed and air traffic is suspended, but universities and other institutions are still working.
In Turkmenistan, school teachers were notified that the spring school holidays have been extended until April 6, apparently in line with the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported.
Turkmenistan citizens are forbidden to talk about coronavirus, Azatlyk reported. However, Turkmenistan has increased measures against the spread of coronavirus, restricted movement to Ashgabat from the regions and the movement of citizens within the country. Disinfectants for visitors are available in public places in Ashgabat, while there is a shortage of them in pharmacies.
Distance learning practices
UNESCO is launching a global education coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk, the UNESCO press release says.
“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Partnership is the only way forward. This Coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity.”
Turkey began airing broadcast school lessons on March 23 as part of distance learning measures to prevent the coronavirus spread. National Education Minister Ziya Selcuk taught the first class to millions of students, Anadolu news agency reported. The Education Information Network lessons are monitored online with the participation of teachers and students, on six TV channels specially reserved for educational use to air them until the end of the pandemic, Selcuk said.
According to Russia’s St. Petersburg administration, universities have launched online courses before the coronavirus pandemic. More than 340 thousand students study at 73 state and private universities in the city, and 90 percent of them have transferred to distance learning due to coronavirus.
E-learning has long been a well-known tool in preparing for exams and helps achieve good results. Remote training has great future and becomes vital in the time of COVID-19 pandemic.
The education ministries of all Central Asia countries admitted that there are problems with the lack of high-quality Internet in schools. Some children and teachers do not have laptops/PC or Internet at home. These issues will be resolved individually, the officials promised.