Online school during COVID-19: 32% of the Romanian pupils have no access to a functional device, study says

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Over 900,000 pupils attending pre-university education units in Romania, meaning 32% don’t have individual access to a functional dedicate device- laptop, tablet, PC desktop- to attend online classes, according to a IRES study conducted on April 27-30 on a sample of 1,319 parents with children aged from 0 to 19 and at least one child in school.
The study was conducted to find out if children in Romania have access to online courses and if they have the needed infrastructure to do that.
The survey revealed that the 32% is 3.6 times higher than the evaluation made by the Education Ministry, which had estimate a percentage of only 9%, the authors of the study argued.

The study also revealed that:

  • over a quarter of parents who don’t have a device for each child to use for the online school would not pay to buy such a device at all;
  • 12% of the Romanian children don’t have an Internet connection strong enough to support online courses;
  • only two thirds of parents said that their children had had online classes during the state of emergency;
  • only half of pupils were in touch with their teachers or schoolmasters for all subjects during the lockdown;
  • more than a quarter of the Romanian pupils spent at least 4 hours per day doing homework during lockdown;
  • less over a quarter of parents of pupils consider that their child is getting less, very little or no support from teachers during this period;
  • almost four in ten parents of pupils spend three or more hours per day to help them with their learning activities.
  • seven in ten parents with children in school had to take care of them from home while working. 16% of parents say the kids had been taken care of the grandparents, while 12 pc said their kids had not needed the care of a grown up. 1pc said they have nannies.
  • 805 of the respondents who work from home and take care of their children at the same time said they are efficient at work. 33pc say they’ve encountered problems in maintaining a balanced programme between work and children, while 16pc admit it was difficult for them to separate the space for work from the one dedicated to their kids.

IRES also says that 36% of the families with children have two or more kids attending school, while online courses usually follow a predefined schedule that most frequently mean that their pupils must attend classes during the same hours, but in different classes, which would require that every kid should have its own device allotted for the online school. The poll found out that 68% of the Romanian pupils have this possibility, which means the rest of 32% are left out.

The Government’s spokesperson Ionel Danca has announced today that 250,000 children in disadvantaged areas will get tablets to be able to attend online classes.

Early this month, Romanian Education minister Monica Anisie had said that the government is debating a draft to allot RON 150 million to buy laptops, tablets and PCs to the children in disadvantaged areas. Anisie argued that the ministry’s statistics show that “around 250,000 children need this equipment to be able to attend online classes”, which would mean that only 9 pc of children in Romania need those devices.

Anisie added that those pupils will also receive free internet for two years.

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