The pandemic imposed unprecedented changes in education, high school students demanded decision-making role

Фото: Thomas Park на Unsplash

This time last year, no one in the world and in North Macedonia, as well, could anticipate that the education will be facing one of the biggest challenges so far. With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, last year’s March was the key point when things began to change. The schools, kindergartens, and even the colleges were all closed. All gatherings were banned and the education process was conducted online with the use of electronic tools and the students that stayed at student dormitories returned to their homes.

Immediately after the schools were closed, the national broadcasting service MTV began broadcasting “TV Classroom” the goal of which was to make up for the the materials that the pupils were missing since they weren’t attending school. Later, the Government adopted a Decree that the education process will be conducted online.

Taking into consideration the situation, the Metamorphosis Foundation answered the public call issued by the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) for a Public Consultation about the draft version of the Concept for online education and published its expert opinion on the basis of its experiences and expertise in IT and education.

Still, what caused heated reactions the last year was the announcement of a new concept for elementary education especially the merging of several school subjects into one. On several occasions, the Minister of Education and Science, Mila Carovska explained that the new concept will teach the children to think critically. This was confirmed by the Bureau for the Development of Education which stressed that the pupils will learn history, but in a manner that is adapted to their age. At the press conference, the details were revealed about the concept and it was stressed that during a class of integrated school subject, not all professors will enter the classroom, but each professor will teach her or his part.

in the last year, on several occasions, the high school students expressed their opinions about the current reforms and happenings. All year long, they attended the education process from their homes apart from students from training schools, where the process took place in accordance with the special protocols.

During the previous 2019/2020 school year, the State Graduation Exam (SGE) was canceled because of the pandemic. Even though it caused happiness to some, for others it posed a problem. MES announced that the SGEfor the 2020/2021 school year will take place in the period between the 29th of May and 14th of June this year, and the exam programs will have reduced content.

There was a reaction on part of the Union of High School Students whose stance was that the SGE should not take place during this year as, according to them, it won’t be effective. Apart from this, they demanded that instead of four to sit for an exam for two school subjects at the state graduation exam. Apart from the SGE, the graduation assignments which can be digital, video, and artistic performances, will also take place.

But, in November, the number of the new infected cases grew rapidly and the students remained at their homes. Because of that, the Union of High School students has decided not to boycott the online education process.

The education process and the evaluation took place online, and when the teacher wasn’t able to assess online it was allowed for him to organize an individual meeting with the pupil. In order to inform about the ways the professors evaluated the pupils, talked with some of them and we arrived at conclusions that they are using all of the tools at hand, from debates, creation of videos, to presentations and quizzes. But that didn’t mean that inappropriate behavior on part of the students was allowed. Those that behaved inappropriately were removed from the classes and were given an unexcused absence.

Even though it has its own advantages, online teaching bears the risks of misuse of the pupil’s personal data. Online education posed and it still poses a challenge both for the professors and the pupils. This is what the research conducted by the Metamorphosis Foundation’s research revealed. It showed that the teachers are facing more problems with the online teaching process.