Maria learns more easily with the donation of a tablet computer
UNICEF and its partners have provided equipment for distance learning for children from the most vulnerable families
Podgorica, 11 February 2021 – “I receive and send e-mails on the tablet, which are important for me to attend classes. I often listen to the stories from the language and literature class on the UciDoma (Study at home) website,” says Marija Maric, a thirteen-year-old girl with disabilities who received a new tablet computer for participating in online learning.
With the introduction of online teaching children from the most vulnerable families have faced additional difficulties in education, primarily due to a lack of distance learning equipment. In Montenegro, 16% of families with children under the age of 18 do not have access to a computer or laptop with internet access, which results in an even bigger digital gap between children.
In this regard, UNICEF in Montenegro, together with the Ministry of Finance and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, the NGO "Parents" and associations of parents of children with disabilities, has launched an initiative to provide children from the most vulnerable families with a total of 770 tablet computers to allow them to participate in online teaching for the purpose of education and training. The degree of impact of the COVID-19 crisis was determined on the basis of the "Rapid Assessment of the Socio-Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic in Montenegro" conducted by the UN system in Montenegro.
Marija, who is in the seventh grade, is extremely pleased that she is one of those to receive a tablet computer that will make distance learning easier for her. In addition to teaching, Marija also uses the tablet computer to communicate with friends from school, and it helps her to spend quality free time surfing the internet.
The tablet is especially important for children with disabilities who have eyesight issues, like Maria. The bigger screen that the tablet has, compared to a mobile phone, is more suitable for her, it is easier for her to use and makes it easier for her to learn.
Tablet computers for successful participation in classes are being given to children who, according to social criteria, are in the state of greatest need, and who are attending classes for which mandatory online participation in classes has been prescribed.
Out of a total of 770 tablet computers, 150 have been given to children in foster families, children in single-parent families and children in the Roma and Egyptian communities, while 320 tablet computers have been distributed to children with disabilities.
UNICEF Child Protection Officer Nela Krnic explains that, thanks to this initiative, children will be able to exercise their right to education without obstacles and will not feel deprived in terms of following classes, but will also be able to do other extracurricular activities, similar to their peers. She expressed the hope that there would be more initiatives like this in the future so that as many children as possible from the most vulnerable groups can exercise their right to quality education.
With the help of tablets and under the supervision of their parents, they will be able to follow extracurricular content that is appropriate for their age and needs, which will lead to them being better informed.
Tamara Milic, head of preschool and inclusive education at the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, said that assistive technology, such as smart devices, is important during the pandemic and for further continuous and quality inclusive education.
Tablets will help children not only in learning but also in improving communication and interaction. Children will be able to gain and express knowledge, but also to independently develop purposeful, efficient and effective communication and express their needs.
The distribution of tablet computers is part of the initiative: "Protection of the most vulnerable children and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic" implemented by UNICEF in Montenegro with the financial support of Group 484 and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Belgrade.