What effect will this have on everyday life for children and their parents in the future? And also for adult education?
It’s difficult to think of it now. My wish is that for everyday life nothing will change a lot, because face-to-face education, social integration, social inclusion between kids and young people is extremely important for society. I wish for us to go back to that as soon as possible. But I hope that some of the changes that we will see include that countries will invest more in their digital infrastructure to make sure that all schools and families have good access to benefit from distance of learning. Also, it would be important to make sure that educators are well-trained in the use of digital platforms and can be prepared to blend distance learning in their courses. I would wish that school districts will invest in preparation strategies and will pay attention to see which of their kids come from disadvantaged families and may need more support during this period.
Would that support include actual hardware, for example when there are families with several children but only one computer or maybe not even a computer at all?
Probably. The average household—also in Europe—might not have as many computers as they have kids. Or maybe your home network or telephone line would not be sufficient to properly connect all of them simultaneously
In these changes you’re describing, Anna, what will the European Investment Bank’s role be? How can we help?
As in the last 20 years, we will be very much on the side of countries, regions, municipalities, private promoters that want to invest in the preparation of educational systems. We have been financing school infrastructure since the year 2000, and this increasingly also includes support and investments to prepare digital infrastructure and to ensure teacher training for handling distance learning and digital tools. So the role of the European Investment Bank would be on the one side to make sure there is awareness of how important education is in the preparation for pandemic events like this one—so it is important to have a strategy for education. And we will be there to support, through our funding, the efforts of education providers in schools and digital infrastructure.
One final question for you, Anna. Like everyone else at the European Investment Bank, you’re teleworking at the moment for social distancing, and you have a couple of children at home as well, because the schools have closed. Do you have any tips for parents on teleschooling?
Try to cope as much as you can. My strategy is to do yoga alone in the morning, to have some me-time and focus. What I feel is important is to try as much as you can to have some sort of schedule, but also to have enough resilience not to get too upset when it suddenly falls apart. And to keep a good reserve of positivity and smiles, no matter what. But also, watch out for the possibilities around you. For example, my kids study in French, and we now found out that French public television has a very nice programme for kids in the first year of primary school. My kid watches television, there is a teacher with a whiteboard, and for her this is useful and adds to all the schooling she can do with us and the material she receives from her regular school.
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