• Giovanna Collu

Going against the odds & changing statistics

Image credits: A Bulgarian girl aged 10 draws at a child zone supported by UNICEF, Popov

COVID-19 hit humanity like a wave. Not just a friendly wave we see splash on the coast, but a merciless tsunami, throwing us into the canonical liturgy of life in the midst of a pandemic. Alongside many other tragedies, education has been heavily impacted. Education is the tree of hope, each branch representing an opportunity. In such times of uncertainty, hope is what humanity desires. That’s why we must improve the learning experience for everyone!

The last months have not been easy. Our lives turned around, and new normality came upon us. From once non-ending laughter filling our school classrooms, to the “new normal” – days passing, caged into the tight and unforgiving grip of a melancholic ritual. As I dread the end of the strict but necessary regime, I've thought about how online learning and education could improve.

Many students feel sorrow take over their lives as every ounce of interaction is taken away from them, substituted by the clicking of a keyboard. Hosting online meetings where young people could connect from all over the world is a great idea. That would certainly help students - not only allow them to be more sociable and confident in expressing their opinions, but make friendships overseas, even in the comfort of their own home.

Teachers are like sculptors. They carefully sculpt the ridges and folds of our personality, while trying to make the world a better place… I would advise educators to motivate their students, sparking interest and engagement. That way students can make the best out of the tough situation they are in, and not fall into laziness. I’d like to express my gratitude towards educators…Thank you for being extremely patient and helping us explore that new “normal”!

And although loneliness, melancholia, and boredom have become my proud companions, I recognize the privilege I have and the struggles some students are facing. Poverty and especially educational poverty are monsters that hover over Romani people in my country, Bulgaria. Only 8 % of Romani students finish secondary school. Nowadays, 13% of rural areas don’t have access to WI-FI or devices, making online learning a tremendous obstacle.

If it were up to me, providing necessary devices and quality education would be a priority. We could make a significant change by using radios and by broadcasting lessons. Teachers could also record their lectures and send them to their students via DVDs. Volunteering and donating could be of big help. For example, foreigners showing their culture to these children, educating them, and feeding their hunger for knowledge. That would help kids in rural settings prosper and thrive!

Every child should have the key to unlock a power - Knowledge. The importance of knowledge stems from the opportunities it gifts and the lives it changes. It would certainly allow Roma youth to go against the odds, and with effort and patience change statistics. Because as Mark Twain said, himself, -"Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

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