“A wasted academic year for students who have not adapted well to virtual learning”
Professor Carmel Borg said that this school year was wasted for some children who, for various reasons, have failed to adapt to the reality of virtual learning. In Dissett , he suggested that before the start of next academic year an assessment of each student’s skills be made and those who have fallen behind are given individual attention with structured programs.
Covid-19 thwarted the educational journey of just over 80,000 students in Malta (80,201), with more than a third of them in secondary school (30,000).
Psychotherapist David Grillo estimates that about 20% of students at the Seminary school where he works have been severely affected by the disruption in education.
“Whoever was behind may be falling even further behind, and while it is true there are opportunities and that one should stay positive but the reality is that this is not normal.”
A guidance and PSD teacher at St Monica’s school in Birkirkara, Rebekah Desira said that there was a big difference between classroom and online teaching. She observed patterns of concern among her students and decided to revise the syllabus to address the mental distress they are possibly experiencing.
“As I was planning what to do during the third term of this school year I felt the need to focus more on positivity and mindfulness and put aside a few of the topics I had intended doing. God willing we can do them next year “.
MUT President Marco Bonnici said many teachers, including some who were skeptical about the use of technology, have managed to adapt to e-learning, but warned that not everything is rosy. “The problem is that while school gave you an element of structure, routine and to some extent control over what you are doing as a teacher, now these have fallen by the wayside and you can also have the element of technology and support where you can have students who they don’t have access to technology all the time ”.
Interviewed on Dissett, Professor Carmel Borg said that there are heartbreaking situations of children who due to a difficult social context and other reasons, continued to fall behind. This was something he said that could be addressed, not by repeating the school year, but by assessing each student before returning to school. “There are other solutions including using summer if needed, but I don’t think repeating the whole year should be the way forward. Rather, we should have a situation where we know exactly where the children stand after this experience which was pretty tough for everyone “.
So far no formal decision has been taken on whether schools will reopen next September for a new school year, with the MUT President saying discussions have just begun and there are three options, that the schools reopen normally; that they remain closed or that they open subject to restrictions including shorter time periods and more online learning.