A helping hand for every parent and child through the ECD online learning platform

Transforming early childhood education in times of pandemic.

Leonora Aliu
Edukimi i Hershem
UNICEF
27 October 2020

Kosovo, October 2020 – The pandemic caused by COVID-19 continues to threaten people’s lives, including parents and their children aged 0-6 years old, an age deemed crucial for the development of children’s brain and normal life.

Changes to our daily lives and the lockdown of preschool education institutions that lasted for a few months has substantially impacted children’s educational process.
UNICEF globally supports early childhood education, as the foundation for normal, healthy, and proactive child development. Thus, the first 6 years are considered to be the years when children make the right start.

This has also been noticed by many parents who, in addition to education and games with children at home, as a result of the pandemic, also had to engage in working from home.

“Working from home and online learning has been a new challenge for us as parents,” says Adnan Ejupi, father of Auron, 4 years old, from village Gadime e Ulet, municipality of Lipjan.
For the very purpose of facilitating this process, supporting parents and also providing more solutions for them, the UNICEF Kosovo Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science, in April this year, launched the online platform “Distance Learning”,  https://edukimihershem.rks-gov.net/ through which thousands of parents and children were reached. The platform was launched only a month after the Kosovo institutions’ decision to put citizens in lockdown as a protective measure against the COVID-19 virus.

“The cooperation and willingness of Auron’s educator and the online platform have really facilitated learning and activities. The platform has had a positive impact on coordinating activities between us parents and the children,” Adnan Ejupi says.

Amra and Fergap Zaimi, parents of Medina 4 years old, from Dragash, claim that the platform has had more or less the same impact. “With the support of UNICEF, we have been active the whole time, including the time of pandemic when we remained in touch with the educator. The whole situation with online activities is difficult, both for parents as well as for educators and teachers, but so far we have had good cooperation and mutual understanding,” they say.
According to Blerina Ramadani, mother of Rinesa 4 years old, the platform has had a very good impact because her children have learned many new things and, not only for her daughter, but also for her son who is older.

“We worked together throughout the activities and I think it helped children socialization,” she says, highlighting that social distancing was a challenge for the children, particularly since they could not meet with their friends.

 

ECD Cover Image
UNICEF/2020/L. Aliu

Documents, pictures, videos, and other materials related to early child education, tips on parent psychological wellbeing, etc. are only some of the materials available on this platform. The Platform is accessible in four languages: Albanian, Serbian, Roma and Turkish, contains the user manual and the activity archive corner developed through multimedia productions, had more than 2.6 million views with 205.000 unique users.

The Minister of Education, Mr. Rame Likaj, on launching the platform, said that the content presented on the platform will support parents/legal caregivers and educators in developing monthly, weekly and daily activities with their children in home environments. “The content presented in this Platform stimulates children’s development in all development areas, depending on their age. MES wishes good health and growth to all children aged 0-6 who are developing educational activities in different ways,” Minister Likaj said.

“The platform brings in opportunities to foster a family environment that encourages healthy attitudes and behaviors for best start to life for every child in Kosovo. Technology for development and digital innovation – and the practice of exploring new ways of reaching and empowering every child has been at fore front of our partnership with the Ministry of Education. UNICEF will continue to invest in digital innovation and build a much more resilient system as we recover from the effects of pandemic” said Head of UNICEF Kosovo Office, Mr Murat Sahin.

In the effort to reach all children and parents, UNICEF, through the support of the Government of Luxembourg, is supporting the Ministry of Education to implement TV broadcasting of daily developmental activities for children 0-6 years old, as presented in the digital platform “Distance Education”. Despite the high internet penetration rate in Kosovo, the most marginalized families have restricted access to digital tools and thus, cannot attend to platform activities or communications with the educators. Therefore, TV broadcasting will available to all parents and children in Kosovo starting from 29th of October and will guide parents/caregivers and educators to engage with their children at the home environment and targeting their healthy development and learning.

With the support of the Government of Luxembourg we will continue working on the supporting development of the child at early age by promoting full immunization, early childhood development through read and play and by expanding home visiting to reach every family and child with health services at home.