With schools closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Albania, the Independent Trade Union of Education of Albania has moved quickly to social media and virtual group platforms to stay in touch with members. It has also liaised with public authorities to ensure that all children have ongoing equal access to educational resources.
In Albania, schools closed on 10 March as part of the country’s measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The Independent Trade Union of Education of Albania (SPASH-ITUEA) quickly established new channels of communications to liaise directly with members. “We are using social media and chat groups to continuously inform our members about the situation and their rights,” said Anxhela Llalla of SPASH-ITUEA. “We have published three numbers they can call from 8am to 8pm, any time they think their rights have been violated or they have any questions.”
Teachers are being asked to deliver their lessons through online platforms. However, not all teachers and students own a smartphone or a computer. In addition, there is no access to the internet in remote areas, and, in general, broadband costs are very high, so not everyone can afford it.SPASH urged the Education Ministry to make lessons for all classes available daily on all national TV channels. This would allow for a broader reach and would help to ensure that every child, no matter his/her geographical location, would be able to access educational resources.
SPASH has also asked publishers to make available school resources on diverse subjects, so that teachers can easily use them. It has also requested free internet access for all students and teachers until the end of the emergency situation.
While teachers were also asked by educational authorities to post pictures and videos of them and children during the online learning sessions, SPASH immediately instructed teachers not to post anything without the written consent of the children’s parents/guardians.
The Education Ministry has responded positively to some of the union’s recommendations: lessons are being recorded and broadcast on national TV and some Internet
providers have cut their fees in half.