Building education back better after COVID-19

"After this crisis ends, I hope that we will be able to return to our schools. But more than anything, I hope we return to a better education."

A blog by UNICEF Young Reporter Jana Stojkovska (17)
Child's hands making a mini prototype over a craft paper
17 November 2020

COVID-19 has completely overhauled the world and for many of us students we were introduced to online learning and distance learning for the first time in our lives. After this crisis ends, I hope that we will be able to return to our schools. But more than anything, I hope we return to better education. Where each student thrives and achieves their best to their abilities and interests. These are some of my suggestions and ideas on how we can make that happen. 

Let students choose the subjects they want to study

We often share experiences with my friends and talk about how with great difficulty, we learn some subjects in school that we have no interest in. We devote a lot of time and energy to achieve certain results in those subjects. Instead of focusing on the subjects and areas we are interested in and to deepen our knowledge in those areas. That is why, I believe that depending on their age, their interests, knowledge, and skills, each student should be able to choose the subjects and areas of study. Areas that will bring them joy and satisfaction in learning to help them progress and achieve successful results. There also needs to be more options for us to choose from. I want to have the opportunity to study subjects such as mental health, healthy eating, as well as practical subjects like cooking and sewing, to gain additional skills that will help me take care of myself in everyday life. 

Fewer classes during a school day

I go to school in two shifts and I have 6 or 7 classes in a single day. So often before the end of the day, especially during the second shift, I lose concentration and my mind wanders off to think about something completely different. It’s tiring to listen to and learn a different subject every 45 minutes. It requires full attention and full concentration. When my fatigue sets in and starts to overwhelm me, my thoughts slip away. I later often realize that I missed a large part of the teacher's lecture and this means I have to put in extra effort in independent research and study to catch up. If we have fewer classes during the day, we would have more concentration, focus and be more actively engaged in the lesson. This will surely contribute to better learning outcomes.  

Smaller class sizes 

I usually study in a class with more than 30 students, but on a few occasions, I have had the opportunity to attend a class with 15 students. The experience was great. I realized that I could learn a lot more. The class was much calmer. The teacher was more focused, had time to pay attention to each of us and to answer each of our questions. My attention was entirely focused on the lecture and it was much easier for me to master the new content. I want to study every day in small classes with about 20 students. Where the cooperation between the teacher and classmates is better. The class will be more effective, and all students will get enough time to express themselves, to ask questions, to learn.

More engaging instruction

I really like the classes when the teacher teaches the lesson through presentation or gets the students involved through self-research.  When we all participate and are active. Classes like this are much more efficient. I want to study in classes that will be organized in a more engaging way, classes in which students actively work on projects, research, lead debates and discussions. This is how we develop new skills, knowledge and interests. Interactive classes eliminate drowsiness and passivity and contribute to improving students' concentration and motivation.

Grades and knowledge

For all students, the pressure to get high grades only makes the process of mastering skills and knowledge more difficult. Grades are not always a measure of knowledge. They are not always realistic and do not show whether we have really mastered the material. The most important thing is to understand what I am learning and to be able to apply it later in life. 

More practical teaching

Less tests and more practice. The current tests and writing assignments don’t completely test what we know. They usually only test how much we can memorize certain information, which we more often forget shortly after. Also, I notice that I am more likely to recall something better when I do what I learn and learn practically. Practical learning and practice allow us to apply the theories. More opportunities to experience theory in practice will lead us to acquire new skills and expanding our knowledge.

Education is one of the most important parts of a person's development. I want to live in a society that offers quality and affordable education for every child. Only then we can all develop, progress, improve, continually acquire new knowledge and new skills so that we all contribute to our community. Let’s all act together for better quality education, to contribute to an even better society and more successful young people!