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What has COVID-19 taught us about education in Europe?

13 Oct 2021Vodafone Foundation news

COVID-19 lockdowns turned many of us into teachers overnight. Tales of the perils of home schooling dominated our Zoom meetings, and challenging math lessons at home may have been given up for television instead.

Compared to our struggles, the teachers themselves must have coped well - right?

Wrong. When lockdown hit and lessons moved online, many of them didn’t know where to turn – and even the most experienced teachers struggled to adapt. “I heard a teacher with over 40 years' experience say: “What am I going to do?”’, reflects Dilek, a teacher from Turkey.

Adapting, readapting, and adapting again

Even once teachers had navigated the obstacle of adapting their lesson plans for an online environment, important problems remained. Delivering lessons is just one part of a teacher’s job; they are also responsible for looking after the wellbeing of their students, each of whom has a unique learning style, and some of whom have special requirements above and beyond the others. This certainly rings true for Felicitas, a teacher from Germany. “The biggest challenge was meeting every child’s needs,” she recalls.

The unpredictability of COVID-19 restrictions meant teachers often had to react and readapt at short notice to shifts in their working patterns. Dieter, a teacher from Germany, can laugh about it now, but at the time he found the constant changes extremely challenging. “Remote teaching, alternating teaching, hybrid teaching,” he lists them all in exasperation, ticking them off on his fingers. “And now back to classroom teaching!”

Thank you, teachers of Europe

Now, as schools gradually return to normal, it’s time to thank our teachers for all they’ve done for us and renew our support for them.

SkillsUpload Jr does just that. The initiative from Vodafone Foundations of Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Turkey is aligning education with the digital world in which we now live.

We're working with teachers across Europe to equip them with the skills and methods they need to incorporate technology into the classroom. Teachers are key to ensuring young people are ready to thrive in a digital society. Or, as teacher José María from Spain puts it, ensuring that “they are not only users, but also creators of technology. That is fundamental.”

Watch this video to hear from some of the teachers involved in the programme.

A new future for education?

The challenges of the past year have forced teachers to find new ways to engage with their students – and many of these lessons can be taken forward. But how else do teachers see their role changing in the future?

For Marlon, a teacher from the Netherlands, it’s all about using digital tools to make lessons more relatable to children, reflecting the way we live today. “Parents and teachers need to see that children no longer distinguish between online and offline,” she says. “Their world is both at the same time.”

We need teachers to make our education systems more equitable, innovative, and resilient. And despite the challenges the pandemic has thrown our way, it’s made us all realise that, as Coziana, a teacher from Romania, puts it, “we are stronger together.” It’s time for organisations and teachers to work together, empowering the next generation to shape the world.

SkillsUpload Jr is part of our wider SkillsUpload Europe programme, through which Vodafone Foundations are working in partnership with communities, educators, NGOs and governments to run tailored programmes in 14 European countries. Together, we’re helping people develop their digital skills, know-how and confidence - regardless of their age, background, or where they call home.

  • SDG 9
  • SDG 4
  • SDG 16
  • Digital skills
  • Digital skills & Education
  • COVID-19
  • Digital Society
  • Europe
  • SDG 10
  • SDGs
  • SkillsUpload Europe
  • Vodafone Foundation
  • Social Contract

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