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Education ministers discussed the challenges of the distance learning

Met dank overgenomen van Kroatisch voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2020 (Kroatisch voorzitterschap), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 14 april 2020.

Ministers discussed the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the educational systems across the EU and focused on the challenges arising due to the switch to distance education.

Croatian Presidency organised the second informal video conference of ministers of education on the implications of the COVID-19 for education and training. The meeting was chaired by Blaženka Divjak, Croatian Minister of Science and Education, with the participation of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected education and training systems worldwide. It has changed the ways of learning, teaching, communicating and collaborating. All of this has an impact on students, teachers and families, as well as on the wider community.

The majority of EU Member States decided to close education and training facilities due to the pandemic. In order to ensure the continuation of the education, many Member States have refocused their efforts on distance learning, putting an emphasis on digital solutions. However, the switch to online education created various challenges.

“Member States were able to respond quickly and adapt by organizing virtual classrooms and lessons by using various online platforms, sharing materials via websites, and broadcasting lessons on radio and TV channels. This crisis has brought us closer together. Member States regularly exchange information on the challenges they face, as well as on new ideas and innovative practices. Now is the time to show solidarity and support each other. I am pleased that Member States are willing to share their online educational solutions and innovations. The most pressing issues are connected to assessment, especially school-leaving exams and enrolment in higher education institutions. Coordination on the EU level helps Member States to find optimal solutions”

Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Science and Education

The video conference provided an opportunity for education ministers to exchange practices on distance learning possibilities and relating issues, such as organizing virtual learning and teaching, upgrading the existing IT systems, providing fair access to and preserving quality of education and training, as well as providing different types of tailored support to students, teachers and families.

Moreover, ministers exchanged information about national plans for the end of the school and academic year, on assessment, grading, exams, as well as enrolment to different levels of education. They also touched on the issue of removing obstacles to learning mobility.

“The coronavirus pandemic has also affected learning mobility opportunities. Since many higher education institutions have closed, students on mobility might have difficulties finishing their studies and returning back to their home country. Thinking ahead, we need to join efforts in removing obstacles for learning mobility and finding solutions for those who would want to study in another Member State.”

Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Science and Education

Finally, ministers welcomed the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and expressed interest in funding possibilities to support education and training in response to the coronavirus crisis.

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