Refugee university students conduct online lessons to support distance learning in Kyrgyzstan during the coronavirus crisis

Refugee students conduct online lessons for school children in Kyrgyzstan

Refugee students of local universities conduct extra-curricular lessons via WhatsApp for children from the refugee community in Kyrgyzstan who have the language barrier and thus cannot fully benefit from regular school lessons. Also, tutors are helping children with homework.

In normal circumstances schools would provide additional support to refugee children who do not have the sufficient level of Russian and teachers would dedicate additional time to ensure that children understand the studies. Unfortunately, these activities are no longer possible with the distance mode of education due to increased workload on teachers.

To solve this problem, legal clinic Adilet, UNHCR partner in Bishkek, asked three students with good academic performance to conduct additional lessons for refugee children. The students are themselves representatives of the local refugee community and they fully understand problems and challenges children can face during the study process. They considered different options for conducting lessons and decided on using WhatsApp as a tool available to all children and parents in the community.

For refugee children these additional lessons are an opportunity to spend quarantine time in a more interesting and productive way. “I like these lessons, because it is boring to be at home. I also like to learn Russian, because it helps with my studies at school”, one of children said.

This initiative removed some pressure from parents, who have concerns about support they can provide to their children with studies while being busy with solving other problems connected to the quarantine: “These lessons are very useful. Children are busy with studies, not games, and they will speak Russian better.”

In addition to it, many parents do not speak Russian and not always can explain homework to children: “I was upset when schools were closed, because my children only started learning Russian. My Russian is poor, so I cannot help them.”

For tutors this teaching experience is an opportunity to support refugee children in online learning process and make modest contribution to overcoming challenges everyone is facing now during this extraordinary time. They are very motivated by children’s interest in the learning process. They advise other teachers who work online now not to be afraid of new technologies and try new approaches to make children more engaged.

After declaring a countrywide emergency and quarantine on 21 March, Kyrgyzstan launched online education for school children on 8 April. It is a part of the anti-crisis plan developed by the Ministry of Education to ensure continuous education and graduation of 2019-20 school year on time.