Coronavirus measures negatively impact pupils from poor backgrounds

Children from poor families in Slovakia face problems with distance learning.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

Measures adopted to stop the coronavirus disease from spreading in Slovakia are having a negative effect on poorer pupils.

This stems from a survey carried out by the Teach for Slovakia programme in early April among its participants who teach at private and secondary schools.

“Our experiences from these schools showed that pupils from families living in poverty have a bigger handicap where efforts to teach them from a distance due to school closures are concerned,” said Stanislav Boledovič, founder of Teach for Slovakia, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Teachers expect that these children will learn 90 percent less than they do in school, while their peers from ordinary families will learn only about 30 percent less.

Lack of computers and support from parents

One of the main problems is that children from poor families often do not have a computer that allows them to be in contact with their school.

“We found that in schools in poor localities, teachers can only rarely rely on pupils having a mobile phone or a computer at their disposal at home, while 83 percent of teachers in schools with pupils from a better socio-economic background say their pupils usually have a phone or a computer at home,” said Veronika Pavlíková Klindová, communication and marketing manager of Teach for Slovakia, as quoted by TASR.

Another problem is that children from poor families often need greater support when learning at home, but their parents cannot offer it.

“The limited quality of education without feedback and the contact with teachers will disadvantage poor children more than their peers,” Pavlíková Klindová said, as quoted by TASR, adding that the latter can check online educational videos, download tasks and communicate with teachers.

Thousands of children affected

In addition, in 80 percent of classes managed by teachers participating in Teach for Slovakia, there is at least one pupil living in extreme poverty who does not have access to drinking water and electricity, or has limited living space.

Currently, there are some 40,000 primary school students coming from socially disadvantaged environments, the Education Ministry data showed. This represents 10 percent of the total population of primary school pupils.

“There’s a high probability that there are thousands of children with no computer, smartphone or internet connection,” Pavlíková Klindová said, as quoted by TASR.

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