Issues related to education were discussed with adolescents and youth in Belarus
Hear the opinion of youth
UNICEF Belarus, together with the Ministry of Education, conducted a consultation with more than 100 young people from different regions of the country. We discussed important education issues – digital learning, skills for life and work, inclusive and safe schools, etc. It was necessary to hold the consultation in order to take into account the opinion of young people from Belarus and present it at the Transforming Education Summit at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
There are 4 round tables in the big room. Adolescents move energetically from one table to another. "Maaasha, hurry up, there are 4 minutes left, and there is still so much to discuss," a young man in a three-piece suit says excitedly, but seriously.
The movement around the room which at first looks very hectic, is in fact quite well organized. Now the teenagers are discussing education issues according to the World Cafe method.
In a casual and relaxed atmosphere, they discuss four main topics. 1 topic at 1 table:
- inclusive, fair, safe and healthy schools;
- learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development;
- teachers, teaching and the teaching profession;
- digital learning and transformation.
Some people stay at their tables and collect all the ideas. Everyone else moves around and gives feedback. This technique allows you to involve each participant in the conversation. And to create a comfortable atmosphere of openness, ease and psychological security, when you can speak on an equal footing.
"You know, today's meeting is a very good initiative," we distract the 14-year-old Frol with our questions. "Adults in the majority of cases cannot clearly say what children need. And children most often cannot honestly say what they think. It's hard to open up completely in a one-on-one conversation with a teacher, for example. While here we are one big team – from Novopolotsk, Grodno, from all the regions (I am from Brest). And we can really speak up. I really appreciate UNICEF for creating such an opportunity."
After the general discussion, the most interesting part begins: young people are ready to share the results of the discussion. All their proposals will be summarized, analyzed and presented by the teens themselves at the National Round Table on preparation for the Transforming Education Summit. As a result, part of the initiatives will be included in the consolidated National Report, and the voice of youth from Belarus will be heard at the Global Summit.
It is important that the opinion of young people in Belarus is taken into account in the development of decisions on issues such as education, environment, mental health and many others. Their voice is a valuable resource. UNICEF Belarus creates conditions for teenagers to talk about their problems in such a way that adults who make decisions can hear them.
"I like to take part in events when you are not the only one who is very initiative, but there is a whole room of such guys," says the 17-year-old Dasha. "And people don't just shout out their opinion, but communicate in a civilized way. Listen carefully to each other and give feedback. It is rare to find such a concentration of interested people in one place. Usually there are not more than 30-40 percent of the audience who are really interested in the subject. And here everyone is hot-eyed, everyone needs to say something. It's inspiring."
The participants of the consultation noted down the achievements in the field of education, points of growth and offered their recommendations.
Below you can find the most interesting recommendations from our young people.
- The complication of the curriculum and the increase in the volume of homework have a bad effect on the psychological health of students. Therefore, it is necessary to make psychological assistance more accessible.
- There are opportunities for development in Belarus: public youth organizations, a network of additional educational services, sports, music and art schools. But many important issues are not taught to children. For example, financial literacy and entrepreneurial development. The participants also suggest paying more attention to career guidance: talk about modern professions that are relevant in the context of sustainable development and the "green" economy; organize guided tours to enterprises and universities; hold meetings with young professionals, former school graduates, in order to receive feedback and practice-oriented advice.
- It is necessary to improve the system of identifying and supporting gifted children and youth, intensifying the interaction of educational institutions with the National Children's Technopark.
- It is necessary to include elements of gamification in the educational process in order to increase the efficiency of mastering the material and involve participants in the educational process.
- Continue to develop subject interactive laboratories that involve the use of modern interactive learning tools (multiboards, interactive consoles, interactive survey systems, etc.).
- Ensure accessibility of ICT and digital services for people with special educational needs.
- Raise teachers' salaries by paying special professional bonuses for special achievements, which will stimulate teachers.
- Eliminate "unusual" functions of teachers (collecting information, conducting surveys, etc.).
- Provide teachers with sabbatical leave to write teaching aids or develop methodological materials.
- Provide an opportunity for continuous improvement of interdisciplinary competencies for the subsequent development of start-ups, digital or research projects together with the students.
- Legalize remote learning.
"Education should be comfortable for all parties," says the 16-year-old Camilla after presenting her group's ideas. "Everything people learn during the educational process, they will then bring to the world, to people, to their profession, and to themselves. At this event, we expressed our impressions and wishes. I'm sure that our voices will be heard."
We will definitely tell you what ideas of young people were included in the consolidated National Report to be presented at the Summit.
The Global Education Summit is a unique platform for dialogue and collaboration in search of solutions to pressing problems in the field of education. It helps to develop a mechanism for cooperation in the field of education to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 (quality education). The goal of this year's summit is to radically change the way we approach education systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting will focus on 5 key areas of change: schools, life and work skills, teacher training, digital transformation and education finance.
Belarus, like other participating countries, will make its proposals and talk about national goals and guidelines in the field of education.
In 2022, the summit will be held on September 19 in New York as part of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.