Special Report/ Gratitude to Teachers - the ‘Silent Heroes’ during COVID19

The lockdowns in response to COVID-19 have disrupted conventional schooling as we know it with nationwide school closures and shift to online and hybrid learning. During school lock down, Albanian students from more privileged backgrounds, supported by their parents and eager and able to learn, could find their way past closed school doors to alternative learning opportunities. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds often remained out when their schools shut down. This crisis has exposed the many inadequacies and inequities in Albanian education system as elsewhere – from access to the broadband and computers needed for online education, and the supportive environments needed to focus on learning.
While the Albanian Government supported by international community have made concerted efforts to maintain learning continuity during this period, through shifting to online learning through the platform Akademi.al, preparing video lessons for vulnerable children aired through the national TV RTSH Shkolla, etc. a key player in the process of continuation of learning were the teachers.
Teachers also had to adapt to new pedagogical concepts and modes of delivery of teaching, for which they may not have been trained in advance. They had to adapt to online learning, learn new pedagogical approaches to assist children during this traumatic period and get trained on ICT and blended learning approaches.
Through dedication and commitment as also shared by the video we watched Albanian teachers were able to overcome this challenge. We are here to celebrate this achievement, show the appreciation to Albanian teachers for their devotion and also look back at the lessons learnt and momentum gained by COVID-19 response in education to make sure how the experience  gathered during this time ,  the wealth of blended learning and technologies used, continue to be used to improve learning achievement especially for the most vulnerable groups,  children living in remote areas, those learning in multigrade classes , children with disability, Roma children etc.  benefit from the technology and best lessons offered through Albanian TVSH.
During his greeting speech, UNICEF Representative, Dr. Roberto de Bernardi said: “The crisis has also shown  us how important partnerships are , so I avail myself of this opportunity to thank  Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on the leadership shown during the  crisis, on  their commitment to  keep schools open (in line with UNICEF recommendation to close schools only as last resort) as well as thank the Netherlands’ Government for making available a generous financial  support to overcome the challenges coming from earthquake and pandemics”.

To spark transformation in education we should collectively look at the future and how we can jointly leapfrog education results by harnessing innovation and technology to improve 21-st century skills for all Albanian children and young people (and experiences in remote learning such as RTSH Shkolla and blended learning will be important to rely on. /argumentum.al