Teachers, students and parents to work together with ministry to improve the quality of education
UNICEF, Parents Association and the Trade Union of Education of Montenegro call for re-convening of the working group with their representatives and the decision-makers from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports
PODGORICA, 02 APRIL 2021 – UNICEF, the Parents’ Association and the Trade Union of Education of Montenegro are calling for continuous broad consultations with all stakeholders, especially teachers, students and parents, to finish this school year in the best possible way and prepare the next one to be of better quality.
The best quality education in all contexts, including the pandemic, can be achieved through continuous dialogue and cooperation with all stakeholders. Voices and needs of teachers, students and parents should be continuously taken into account in educational policy-making. For this reason, we call upon the re-establishment of good practice prior to re-opening schools in January and re-convening of the working group with their representatives and the decision-makers from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports. The aim would be for all stakeholders to support this schools year to end in the best possible way under the circumstances and, as importantly, to ensure quality and timely preparations for the next school year to the benefit of all students.
UNICEF and UNESCO global report with data from 191 countries shows that so far no causal link has been observed between school openings and Covid-19 transmission. In addition, data on the COVID-19 transmission in Montenegro in relation to preschools, primary and high schools available at the Ministry of Education website http://www.covid19.edu.me/ shows that the greatest number of infected teachers and students are in municipalities which have the highest infection rates. This data indicates that schools are safe places which do not contribute to a rise in COVID-19 infections, if they are operated in line with all the preventative measures. For this reason, UNICEF calls for everyone to respect #DistanceMaskHands measures and for schools to be the last to close and the first to open during lockdowns.
Parents Association highlighted the need to improve the quality of education during the pandemic in the best interest of children, parents and teachers. They agree with the Trade Union of Education of Montenegro that free internet, free access to new technologies and trainings in digital and IT literacy need to be provided to teachers to improve the quality of education during the pandemic. Parents’ Association also calls for empowering every school to make its own decision on the best ways to organize quality and inclusive education during the COVID-19 pandemic based on a comprehensive assessment of the school’s risks and capabilities to be conducted in cooperation with health experts, teachers, parents, students and the local community.
In time of uncertainity, both children and parents find it important to have at least some safety and to know what to expect. They count on the greater flexibility of the system in line with the ongoing situation and on considering continously the basic educational needs and the great obstacles to satisfying them. For this reason, every change needs to be introduced carefully and children's needs need to be followed to the maximum possible.
In order for all schools to be able to operate safely by respecting the #DistanceHandsMask measures at all times, it is necessary for them to have adequate supplies of hygiene and protective equipment. For this reason, it is important to ensure that every school has an adequate budget for these purposes during the pandemic. A significant increase in teachers’ workloads, inadequate psycho-social support and the need to improve teachers’ socio-economic status in society were underlined by the Trade Union of Education of Montenegro.
For almost 13 months employees of educational institutions in Montenegro have been working under changed circumstances using the only possible methods. Although under pressure from the fear of the new virus, they have been transferring knowledge with enthusiasm and in a professionally responsible manner maintaining the education system. A considerable number of educators was or is now positive to coronavirus, while some colleagues lost their battle against this disease. Adequate psycho-social support is needed to them and their families. It is good that together we take steps for the overall improvement. Socio-economic status of educators deserves to be upgraded. It is necessary to value their additional workload. Through the social dialogue, the Trade Union of Education of Montenegro will, as always, present education system indicators.
UNICEF Montenegro appeals to all stakeholders to ensure schools are always the last to close and first to open. Through broad consultations by education authorities, health authorities, teachers, parents and students we can achieve a participative decision-making process that will lead to improving the situation. UNICEF stands ready to support the government and all stakeholders in these efforts.