AER Summer School - the largest online Remedial School in Romania
AGENCY: THE PUBLIC ADVISORS
CONTEXT: Covid-19 has affected the generations who are now starting to see the world and to understand life: our children and the way they had to adapt to school during pandemic times. It was clear that school as we knew it could not continue to function like that anymore. Therefore, as many other economic and business sectors, it all turned to online. But was Romania really prepared for online school? Were teachers prepared? Were they ready to teach online? Were children prepared?
In May 2020, the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy (IRES) announced a gloomy diagnose: 32% of children enrolled in pre-university education do not have individual access exclusively to a functional device (desktop, laptop, tablet), which makes the presence of students in online classes partial or not at all (1).
Education means communication and in this process of communication Romania faced major shortcomings in all chapters: we lacked the technological tool (access to technology and the Internet), we lacked the skills of the communicator to shape the message to this new environment, we lacked the methods to convey the message, we lacked the support materials, in general we had more shortcomings than pluses.
The Ministry of Education announced in March 2021 that over 225,000 students would be enrolled in remedial classes (2) in an attempt to recover the losses during online school. The “offer” of the Ministry was not really adequate, as the remedial classes were offered to the children by the same teachers they had “at class”. So, was that really efficient?
Children coming especially from vulnerable environments have always needed remedial education. In 80% of households, children and young people of all ages, from kindergarten to high school, work at home cleaning, caring for animals or caring for other members of the household. The pandemic has only deepened the gaps, especially for disadvantaged environments, with reduced access to both technology and material resources, but especially to private tutoring.
STRATEGIC APPROACH: Given this entire context, Brio®, the ed-tech platform for measuring educational performance approved by the Ministry of Education and Research, along with Kinderpedia, the school management and communication platform, Magic School, a social initiative for education and Livresq, a digital content creation platform for teachers, came up with something new: the biggest online school in Romania, with teachers from all over the country who provide classes through online platforms that bridged the gap and ensured democratic access for students who need remedial education for Romanian language and Math, whether they come from urban areas, rural areas or disadvantaged areas.