Over 130,000 children in Republika Srpska are not in schools for more than two months, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although classrooms are empty, learning continues through the provision of online classes. One of the key challenges of online learning is ensuring access for all children – during a pandemic, internet access is more important than ever.
The Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska, UNESCO and UNICEF have joined forces in providing mobile internet packages for over 5,300 children until the end of school year. Significant support was also provided by the company M:tel, by ensuring free mobile internet packages for a number of children.
The pandemic has exposed the equity gap among children from various socioeconomic backgrounds and calls for universal access to digital learning when physical presence in schools poses risk to the safety of children. The education system must have equitable, alternative, and innovative solutions to address current situation. It is critical to invest in developing accessible and curricula- based digital and media resources. This will allow seamless transition to online learning when situation demands closure of schools. The pandemic provides an opportunity to improve teaching process and the overall quality of education – says Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The pandemic is a challenge, but also an opportunity for institutions around the world to take advantage of digital technology. In the age of digital resource availability, there is an undeniable need to introduce educational reforms that harness the potential of technology. Partnership with the private sector is crucial in connecting education systems with the knowledge-based economy and improving the quality of education. We therefore appreciate M:tel’s recognition of the importance of access to education – says Siniša Šešum, Head of UNESCO Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UNESCO and UNICEF continue to support education authorities in BiH in ensuring the continuity and quality of education, both during and immediately after the pandemic.