Members of the National Network of Poverty Reduction Organizations and the National Network of Education NGOs regularly monitor and assess the pandemic’s impact on various vulnerable groups.
During the pandemic, children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds do not participate in the educational process remotely – they do not join on-line lessons or perform tasks. According to the Review of Poverty and Social Exclusion (2020, pp. 19-22), the reasons for this are varied: lack of equipment and access to the internet, lack of IT knowledge (by children and/or their parents), work-family balance challenges and and/or lack of parental social skills.
To ensure that all children have equal opportunities to participate in the educational process and their education continues, timely cooperation and coordination of actions between all stakeholders – the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (MESM), the Ministry of Social Security and Labor, municipalities and leaders of schools – must be ensured to implement integrated measures:
Founders and administrators of educational institutions should collect the needs of pupils and children participating in pre-school education programs (hereinafter, pupils and children) and ensure that they have computers and internet at home and, ensure that children and pupils have the necessary skills to use them and provide additional consultations when needed.
Administrators of educational institutions should ensure continuous monitoring of (non-) participation of children and pupils in the educational process. Class leaders should inform the head of their educational institution about absentees in a class or a pre-school education group and further actions and/or non-actions by parents. It is recommended that class teachers should inform the heads of educational institutions if parents do not report non-attendance if it is not related to illness.
In cases when children and pupils do not participate in the education all day and parents/guardians do not respond to the class teacher’s remarks/requests for children to join lessons, administrators and founders of educational institutions should organize learning at the school or pre-school. If parents/guardians refuse to cooperate, the head of the educational institution should inform the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service about the possible violation of the child’s rights.
We also note that children and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds should be provided with appropriate emotional support to safeguard their mental health.
When organizing direct learning at a school or other institution, a municipality or educational institution should take care of the transportation and feeding of these children and pupils in the educational institution, as well as provide the necessary educational assistance.
When organizing learning in an educational institution, its administrators should ensure computer equipment, provide spaces that meet operational management requirements and guarantee educational support specialists. In organizing direct learning, we suggest cooperating with children’s day and youth centers, libraries and other local institutions that have the necessary resources (premises, staff).
When deciding on the issues of direct education in educational institutions, it is important to take into account the individual situation of the family and the child when making decisions and make the most favorable decisions for them.
Although the action plan is currently being prepared to ensure the continuous and high-quality education of children from socially disadvantaged families, the educational process in 2021 has already begun and solutions are needed in the near future. Representatives of the National Network of Education NGOs and the National Network of Poverty Reduction Organizations are ready to contribute to the development and implementation of the plan.
We have asked the responsible ministries to provide the necessary assistance to educational institutions (educational support specialists, computer equipment, etc.) and prepare as soon as possible recommendations for municipalities and administrators of educational institutions on how to organize education for children and pupils from disadvantaged socio-economic environment during the pandemic and present solutions for possible organization of a centralized educational process by adapting the premises of other, not only educational, institutions, where possible.