As we approach the start of the new school year, scheduled for August 24, Geneva’s Department of Public Education (DIP) is producing a generally positive assessment of distance learning, which was urgently introduced last spring. Preliminary assessment, some difficulties such as dropping out of school can only be observed in the long term. “I remember from this brutal and difficult experience that everyone played the game, both teachers and students and their parents,” said State Councilor Anne Emery-Torasinta.
To make its self-criticism, the DIP relies on a survey conducted by the Office for Educational Research (SRED) and HEG Zug between April 17 and May 1, which made it possible to collect 16,000 responses from principals, teachers, parents and students. However, the results should be taken with caution. In fact, on April 20, the DIP announced that the quarter would not be counted, which may have affected some responses. A questionnaire to which 45.7% of teachers responded in June also provides an opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the online school.
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A “fairly relaxed” relationship
Fear for the rest of the school career, difficulties in organizing, the need for control without suffocation: the closing of schools on March 13 challenged parents and students. However, according to the SRED study, relations between the school and families were “rather calm” during the detention. About 61% of parents believe that teachers care about their children’s well-being. Only 10-15% of them believe that sharing responsibilities with the school has not given good results.
Did the imprisoned students really study? The answer is very variable. About 20% of students surveyed in the orientation cycle said they worked between thirteen and sixteen hours a week, only 12% more than twenty hours. Among the teachers, 45% believed that the students were actively involved in their assignments. More than 55% of teachers said they spent “significantly more time” than before preparing their lessons.
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On the digital front, going online has provided teachers with “continuous on-the-job learning”. “Students’ online accounts were activated in just ten days and teachers started using tools they didn’t necessarily have before,” says Anne Emery-Torasinta. Also according to the SRED survey, 66% of them now say they want to continue using them, mainly for managing homework and creating digital content. “In the future, however, the device and equipment will have to be expanded, emphasizes the magistrate, recalling that the parliament refused a credit of 22 million francs for digital technology in school last December. During the detention, the DIP also realized that about 1,000 students did not have an electronic medium to work on.
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As far as the results are concerned, 147 students of 8P were released to proceed to the guidance cycle. At this level, the failure rate is rising: 17.75% compared to 13.5% last year. In II secondary, the success rate is higher, especially in general culture high school. Will DIP unlock additional resources to help struggling students? “In case of huge and proven needs, I can request an additional loan, points out Anne Emery-Torasinta. At this stage there are still reserves thanks to activities and undone shifts.