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The transition to online teaching as a result of the state of emergency introduced to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus has brought several challenges to schools, teachers, students and their parents. Children from marginalized communities faced the biggest problem in attending classes.

To help deal with the crisis and implement online teaching, the Foundation Open Society -Macedonia (FOSM) has offered its assistance to the relevant institutions, as well as primary schools in rural areas with the language of instruction of smaller ethnic communities that in the past year and a half are part of the supported FOSM interventions in education. At the same time, through the projects that are currently active as well as in cooperation with our partners, we have assisted but also more tools and educational materials that will help teachers and students to adapt to the new situation more easily.

 

Project “Regularly attending classes: Action for the inclusion of Roma in elementary education”

As part of the EU-funded project “Regularly attending classes: Action for Roma Inclusion in Primary Education”, the Foundation awarded scholarships to 286 first graders, children from the poorest Roma families who are beneficiaries of social assistance and because 30% of them are not able to follow online instruction, FOSM considers additional opportunities on how to best help these children and their families.

 

The digital library equipped with picture books in Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Bosnian, Roma and sign language

The digital library of our strategic partner The Foundation for Educational and Cultural Initiatives “Step by Step” is on the list of recommended online educational resources of the Ministry, with 30 titles of picture books in audio and PDF format in Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish and Bosnian language, 5 picture books in Roma language and 20 sign language picture books available at the following link:  https://bit.ly/2X5D9IE. On this website, teachers can find manuals with activities that they can share with their students in online communication.

Some of the trainers of “Step by Step” also prepared TV classes using these activities. The Facebook page of the Foundation “Step by Step” is also used to communicate with parents who share fun learning activities and to develop children’s math and language skills, but also translate and share topics such as how to talk to children about coronavirus, tips for self-care families, and coping with stress during isolation and social distance.

 

#LearningNEVERStops with the Open Educational Resources platform

Our strategic partner The Metamorphosis Foundation called on the teaching staff to show solidarity and joint action to ensure that #TeachingNEVERStops by offering them the Open Educational Resources (OER) platform www.oer.mk as a central registry for open and free digital resources needed for online education. The call reached over 4,000 teachers and was shared over 50 times in just a few days. The OOR platform is also recommended for use by the Ministry.

The website http://oer.mk/ also serves as a platform for cooperation between teachers, a place where they can create their profile, view, use, share and most importantly create online resources themselves (lectures, online videos, multimedia programs, presentations, classes, etc.). With the support of FOSM, the Metamorphosis Foundation in the coming period will continue to regularly inform and inspire the community of teachers and educators in our country, offering them technical assistance and resources for successful, digital, and free education for all students.

 

Lectures, public hearings, educational videos and online educational quizzes for young people

Our strategic partner in the field of Student and Youth Rights and Engagement, the Youth Educational Forum, has redirected its activities and works with the help of online platforms. To fill the time and organize youth activities, MOF, using various online tools, continued with various lectures, public hearings, videos of simulations of trials and proceedings before the EU institutions, as well as organizing online educational quizzes.

In collaboration with alumni members, 9 educational videos were also made (available at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MOFedu/videos/ ) which had up to 10,000 views and 32,700 reaches over two and a half weeks. The videos cover several topics such as: what are our responsibilities and why we must follow the rules, comparative experiences of students in Italy, why exactly such measures have been taken and how quickly the virus spreads, how to pay attention to mental health in a time of self-isolation, what is the meaning of declaring a state of emergency, what is the meaning of Restriction of movement – a curfew, where to find the necessary information and protect ourselves from false news, what are the symptoms on our body and how to prevent the spread of the virus, how citizens and young people in Spain deal with the situation, etc.

 

Snacks for children from the Day Care Center for Children from the Streets in Šuto Orizari

Through the support of FOSM for the Day Care Center for Support of Children from the Streets in Šuto Orizari, snacks are provided for children to have at least one meal during the day. Also, within the donation of food and hygiene packages that FOSM in cooperation with the Red Cross provided for about 2000 families, the families of these children who mostly beg for money and many do not even have social assistance are also included. The Center’s co-ordinators continued to communicate and advise children and families to respect the curfew and obtain information on their health status, and to assist them with the necessary medical examinations and consultations with local health clinics.