Network of Education Policy Centers supported six members’ initiatives within the Emergency Fund II with the aim to support members responses to education challenges through the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of these initiatives was to contribute to economic justice and promote information democracy. The emergency funds initiatives have been supported by a grant of Open Society Foundations.

1. Let’s talk about education – informed dialogue for better education – CEI Step by Step, Bosnia and Herzegovina

50 guests were interviewed in 31 episodes of the The Words on Education (Besjede o obrazovanju). 49 hours of conversations with highly recognized experts and decision makers (teachers, educators, ministries, university professors, researchers…) about quality education, sustainability, education reforms. These meaningful, profound and inspiring conversations contributed to put the focus on education in the public discourse, to motivate education stakeholders, to keep the contact with communities of teachers in time of social distancing. All materials are available at inskola.com and transcripts in English can be found here.

2. Student journalism program – Mongolian Education Alliance, Mongolia

16 schools were involved in the activities to develop students’ journalism group. Teachers and students were supported through trainings and several meetings with the aim to provide basic media information literacy and journalism such as access, exchange information, information analysis and identification of fake news. This initiative enhanced socialization among students even in time of lockdown as well as provided opportunities to hear students’ voice: the journalism club was conceived as channel to express students’ needs, concerns and proposals.

By participating in this program, I have learned new things about the media and developed the courage to express myself freely. (Student from Jargalant school of Orkhon province)

3. Research on Schools Response to Public Health Crisis in Serbia, Kazakhstan and Romania: Comparative study – Foundation Center for Applied Education (Romania), School for All in (Kazakhstan), Center for Education Policy (Serbia)

Reliable data are crucial to map education systems needs in time of crisis as well as to contribute to system resilience in future challenges. Comprehensive data on the experiences of schools in Serbia, Romania and Kazakhstan were collected in the areas related to school organisation and management and implementation of distance/online teaching.

The comparative report is available here.

4. Bridge the gap 2 – Open Academy Step by Step, Croatia

The initiative provided support to one primary school and one kindergarten  in the area affected by the earthquake in Dec 2020. The action supported children who are living in poverty, especially Roma children and their families and equipped the play hub ECEC Play Hub ‘Let’s Go Together’ with toys and books. Within Primary school ‘Braća Bobetko’, workshops for primary school aged children were organized as well. Primary school principals from REYN network were invited to participate in the webinar within the project ‘HEAD -Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture’ regarding inclusive leadership in order to build common understanding about the concept of inclusive leadership and in order to be invited to express their needs regarding building leadership skills. Altogether, 140 participants were included, around 10% are REYN-C members or have integrated Roma children in their school.

5. Contact Grabber: Keep on Studying – Praxis Centre for Policy Studies, Estonia

The pandemic has exacerbated the position of vulnerable groups above all the ones with low SES whose drop-out rise is higher. Low levels of education are a risk factor for socio-economic vulnerability, reduce competitiveness in the labour market and create a breeding ground for societal tensions and divisions. The intervention proposed by this initiative is an application (a new module) in the Estonian eSchool learning information system that issues a teacher an alert when the risk factor is identified and provides guidance on how to resolve the problem. Depending on the changes in the risk assessment – automatically detected by the system – a 1st, 2nd or a 3rd level alert will be displayed to the user (i.e. a class teacher or a support specialist). The teachers receive alarm messages in case of absences, delays, low grades and suggestion for actions (talk to the parents, contact a specialist…).

Example of an alarm message: In the last 2 weeks, Ronnie is one of the few in her class who has had unauthorized absences on 3 different days. Talking to her will help you find out is Ronnie needs support to move on.

The intervention will be implemented between December 2021 and June 2022. The intervention was developed in cooperation with eSchool staff and developers, taking into account the standards and common practice of the eSchool system.