Call for measures to address remote schooling ramifications

Ljubljana – Remote schooling has taken a toll on parents, particularly mothers, and primary school children who have been struggling due to stress, exhaustion and lack of motivation, shows a study by the March 8 Institute. The NGO has urged a strategy to address the repercussions of remote learning.

The study was conducted among more than 2,600 Slovenian households with primary school children, according to Jasna Mažgon, professor of educational sciences at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts.

Children lack motivation, whereas parents are tired and worried with mothers being most frequently overworked due to helping children with virtual learning, she summed up the results.

The survey goes into detail by indicating that almost a quarter of the participants do not have a quiet space where children could do their school work. Almost half of the children share a computer or laptop with their parents or siblings.

Children spend from four to six hours online per day attending virtual classes. Almost half of the parents spend an additional one to two hours helping children with their school tasks and a third up to four hours, said Mark J. Užmah, who led the survey.

Moreover, remote schooling has been held against a backdrop of deepening social inequalities, warned Mojca Lukan of the NGO. Slightly above 40% of the participating households have seen their income decrease since the start of the Covid crisis.

Nika Kovač, the head of the NGO, warned that months-long distance learning had left its mark on parents and children’s mental health as two thirds reported enhanced exhaustion and 58% said they were struggling. She also noted that there was no data on so-called lost students, children who had not been attending online classes.

The actual impact of remote education on children will be clear after all of them return to in-classroom learning, said Užmah. He agreed with Kovač that something should be done to tackle the situation since “long-term remote schooling is not as effective as the Education Ministry says it is”.

The NGO believes that a clear national strategy should be prepared for future school reopenings.

Some of the current prevention measures in schools set down by the government could not be heeded, Užmah said, pointing to small classrooms and a shortage of teachers.

Mažgon said that the ministry should determine the extent of learning gaps in individual subjects that emerged or were widened during remote education and come up with measures to mitigate this as much as possible.

Contact tracing and issuing quarantine orders due to risky contacts should be resumed as soon as possible, Užmah noted, adding that if ordered to self-isolate due to a risky contact, parents should then get compensation for loss of income during that time.