Reimagining Education for Marginalised Girls and Boys during and post COVID-19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The strain of pandemic school closures on pupils, students, teachers and schools is daunting. New joint initiative seeks to rethink education practices in BiH.
The new UN project ‘Reimagining Education for Marginalised Girls and Boys during and post COVID-19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, implemented by UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO and UNV, is launched in close partnership with the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska, the Ministry of science and technology, higher education and information society of Republika Srpska, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of West Herzegovina Canton and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Una-Sana Canton.
This Joint Programme focuses on gender responsive approaches that are addressing learning losses and preventing dropouts, particularly of marginalized groups; offers skills for employability programmes; supports the teaching profession and teachers’ readiness; expands the definition of the right to education to include connectivity; remove barriers to connectivity; strengthen data and monitoring of learning; strengthen the articulation and flexibility across levels and types of education and training.
„Approximately 500,000 children and youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been affected by country-wide closures of all education institutions since March 2020. The strain on pupils, students, teachers and schools is daunting. This crisis, however, is also an opportunity to re-think and reimagine education practices in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, are a basis for advancing reform, applying innovation and developing blended learning to ensure the resilience of the education sector. The UN in BiH is looking forward to working with the education ministries on joint efforts for the benefit of all children in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”, said dr. Ingrid Macdonald, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The project is composed of several components and will closely work with the line education ministries and the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs aiming to improve the conditions of students and teachers with particular focus on the analysis of the needs of female teachers who had to continue teaching and bore a disproportionate share of family responsibilities.
The project will procure hygienic materials for back to school protocol, ICT equipment and internet connections for the marginalized students and assistive technologies for students with disabilities.
In close collaboration with the partner ministries, UNICEF, UNESCO and ILO will assess quality of e-learning delivery of primary, secondary (including Technical and Vocational) and higher education and mapping professional development needs of teachers; IM (Information Management) system in Education for Una-Sana canton, develop a platform for standards for quality inclusive blended learning, establish mechanisms to prevent harm for all related to their participation in online learning, and address safety risks for girls, conduct analysis on teachers to better understand and address the impact on female teachers’ health and well-being during school closure, with particularly consideration to the impacts of additional caregiving responsibilities.
"The project we are launching today, is one of the answers to the related challenges we noted. I am pleased that it will be implemented in three administrative units in BiH. The goal of the project - Mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening the capacity of education authorities and teachers to provide quality inclusive distance learning and combined teaching models should significantly contribute to the most fragile, yet the most important social sector – the sector of education. I am especially pleased to learn that this project will, among other things, focus on the needs of the most vulnerable children, because they must never and in any way be neglected during the teaching process, "said Ankica Gudeljevic, Minister of Civil Affairs of BiH, inviting the education authorities to assist the implementation of the project at full capacity over the next 18 months.
The Minister of Education and Culture of the Republika Srpska, Natalija Trivić, pointed out that the importance of this Project is that we can all jointly influence the acquisition of the new skills, so that students, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in, achieve certain learning outcomes:
"I am glad that we have jointly, through the cooperation and research, identified the shortcomings in electronic communication itself, over the past year, and that this Project has focused on both the technical and the training components. The specially important segment is the one, related to rural areas and those categories that are most sensitive, so that we can purposefully influence the solution of such difficulties and improve the competencies of our teachers, throughout the continued trainings, so that we can apply e-learning in the future, "said Natalija Trivic.
The project is funded by the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, as part of the UN Multi-trust Partner Fund (MPTF).