How COVID-19 will pave the way for better and more accessible education in Brazil
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It is safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has left a mark in every aspect of our lives. Taking the economy for example, the destruction trail left by the virus is made clear when 38 million US citizens apply for unemployment benefits (compared to the 5.8 million that applied pre-covid), or when the stock market goes through a roller coaster motion every other hour.
While the financial turmoil is widely discussed by politicians and experts, other consequences of the pandemic receive little to no attention from the authorities. For instance, the emotional toll brought by the sudden change in educational formats. Leaving both teachers and students in an academic limbo, the transitioning to the online system was turbulent. As the COVID-19 cases rose, so did the number of dropout students due to financial complications, demotivation, or lack of future perspective.
Unfortunately, few institutions put effort into making online school an enjoyable and valid format of learning, but the ones that did paved the way for quality education solutions.
A good example is the inverted classroom method, which got popular in Brazilian High Schools and kept students from dropping out, ensuring them independence to learn on their own way. In this method, the teacher shares reliable sources and leads the class so they can study by themselves. After the students have read the material, an online meeting is held, the subject is discussed, and eventual doubts are solved.
The inverted classroom encourages healthy studying habits, stimulates the establishment of a routine, and makes learning a much more personalized and rewarding experience. The teacher assumes a tutor role, rather than an authority one, and helps each student with their own necessities.
Another solution found by Brazilian public school teachers was to designate some students as tutors to help younger students struggling with their learning process. The tutor receives a monthly stipend, in exchange of correcting other students’ homework, providing extra material, and giving an online review weekly.
In addition to such methods, teachers could implement new evaluation mechanisms, leaning on exercises, summaries, text productions, and experiments, rather than on tests. This trade would benefit students, as they practice on what they have learnt.
The public schools that successfully implemented online teaching methods were recognized by the Brazilian National Council of Secretaries of Education. In December 2020, 5 schools were awarded with the School Management Award, including one in a rural area. The first place was awarded with a 30 thousand Brazilian Reais prize to invest in equipment.
As a public-school student, I have seen my teachers struggle with switching from one method to another, fighting to assure proper equipment to those who did not have it. It is refreshing to know the effort will not go to waste. The newly adopted methods (and the ones that are to be) will continue to improve learning and its accessibility, by combining technology and passion for education.
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