Parents are concerned, but supportive of school reopening
Parents' attitudes on education during the COVID-19 pandemic
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PODGORICA, 24 SEPTEMBER 2020 – The majority of parents in Montenegro (73%) believe that schools should be opened as soon as possible with the application of adequate health measures. At the same time, they are concerned (68%) about beginning the school year in the traditional way, given the current epidemiological situation and the capacity of schools to provide adequate conditions for students to return safely. These are the key results of a survey conducted this month by Ipsos, with the support of UNICEF and the British Embassy Podgorica, on a nationally representative sample of parents of school-age children.
Despite the fear and concerns, most parents support the return of children to school - more than half (54%) would choose the traditional form of teaching, almost a third (31%) would opt for combined learning at school and online, and only 13% would choose only the distance learning model now.
Just 5% of parents confirmed that the schools have consulted them regarding the return of their children to regular classes, while almost 60% believe that parents have the right to independently decide which learning model their child will follow during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This data shows the need for a dialogue in order for the decisions on school reopening and modalities of work of each school to be made in cooperation with the health professionals, school management, employees, parents, students and the local community. Our recommendation is that each school is able to decide the best way to organise quality and inclusive education during the COVID-19 pandemic, because the epidemiological situation, the needs of students and the school's capacity to respond safely to them vary from one school to another.
The British Ambassador to Montenegro, Karen Maddocks joined UNICEF’s appeal for giving the freedom and responsibility to every school to organize quality and inclusive education safely and in consultation with all interested parties.
As a parent myself I know that each parent, and indeed each school, faces different problems relating to their children’s education. The appropriate solutions will vary from school to school and from child to child. This is particularly the case when considering the needs of the most vulnerable children and families. Consideration should be paid to the facilities available at each school, and to the needs and preferences of the families involved to ensure children can continue their education in safety. In-person teaching and real social interaction is essential and getting our children back into schools must be a priority – both for their immediate wellbeing and for their future personal and academic development.
As many as 80% of parents are satisfied with the support that their children and themselves received from the school during the distance learning period in the previous school year. Most of them (86%) are satisfied with communication and cooperation with teachers during this period. However, most parents think that, in the long-run, distance learning can lead to a decline in children's motivation to learn. They also point out that children miss socialisation with peers and that many parents cannot provide adequate support to their children in learning.
Parents of Roma and Egyptian children, as well as those of children with disabilities and children affected by poverty, point to the need for greater support, primarily in terms of ensuring access to new technologies and the Internet, as well as to the skills to use digital tools effectively during online classes. These families emphasize more often the need for additional professional support to children, which parents cannot provide and without which quality education for these children cannot be ensured during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey was conducted on a nationally representative sample consisting of 1,037 parents of school-age children in Montenegro. Data was collected from September 2 to September 6, 2020 through a combination of telephone and online questionnaire of an average length of 20 minutes.