Georgian Schools and Covid-19
Due to the restrictions caused by Covid-19, general education schools in Georgia have continued the teaching-learning process remotely.
Different countries around the world have reacted differently to these restrictions. According to UNESCO, the restrictions affected 1,190,287,189 students worldwide.
Due to the coronavirus, the educational process in Georgia was delayed, schools continued to teach remotely through online lessons. Teaching in public schools was mainly carried out with Microsoft through the Teams application, as well as the creation of a special training portal FeedC, which was used in the teaching process. In some cases, teachers provided educational services to students over the phone. In addition, the Ministry of Education of Georgia and the Public Broadcaster created a project TV school, within the framework of which lessons in different subjects were broadcasted to different classes through television. The TVSchool.ge website was also created for schoolchildren and teachers, where distance learning guides were posted and teachers could create and use different types of assignments.
The public mechanisms for supporting schools were particularly visible. In addition to centralized services (Teams, Counseling, Educational Resources), community groups and individuals who volunteered to support schools were actively involved. The support included specific recommendations on the social network, video blogs and instant experience sharing. Thus, in the process of isolation, both the connection of schools and the horizontal cooperation of community groups and schools were visible. Subject groups were set up on Facebook where resources were actively shared.
Children left out of education can be considered as the main problem of the education system due to Covid-19. Despite the steps taken by the state and public organizations across the country, according to various sources, between 30,000 and 78,000 students in Georgia have been left out of education. Due to the peculiarities of Georgia, the situation is different in schools. Upgrading learning has been particularly difficult in the high region.
The principal of Bazaleti Public School, Izolda Okribelashvili, shared her views on distance learning in mountainous villages.
“Our main problem is the internet. We mainly manage to contact the students by phone. I have such a suggestion: if we all ask the state for help to provide students with free internet, is it possible? Now the state money is no longer spent on transportation of students. Our 26-year-old nine-year school serves children from four rural villages. The transportation costs of children is covered by the State budget. So internet service will cost the state cheaper than transportation. We all need to get our voices heard. We are also the children of "unfortunate Georgia". There are four teachers in my family. I have internet, but it is very slow. It is difficult to perceive anything while listening with pauses. Yesterday we also had difficulty in listening to your session".
Ana Lemonjava teaches English in the village of Baghdati Municipality, at Fersati Public School N2. She told us: “The children are very eager. They want to learn and we do everything we can. I have many students with me who are not preparing. It motivates me because they rely on me alone, therefore, I have more responsibilities. I will do everything I can. In short, we are very tired, but I do not stop. Conditions prevent us, but I'm sure it will. I myself am not very experienced in distance learning, but I study with them".
The instant response to Covid-19 limited the content of the interventions, leaving behind issues such as access to education, child welfare, nutrition, health, and more. However, some positive aspects were also identified, which will help to introduce and improve the distance learning process in the future:
- Local opportunities were activated at the school level;
- Cooperation between schools / teachers has been intensified;
- The connection between the community and schools has been activated;
- The ability to create technologies and digital resources was acquired by more teachers.
The pandemic remains a serious challenge for the whole world. Although schools, the public and government agencies in Georgia have responded quickly to the quality of education, the involvement of students with low socioeconomic status gives a concern to them.