Measures to ensure equity among students across the country in access to Higher Education, with exams based on the subject given in classroom classes, and adequacy of methods and contents of distance learning are needed, defends the Federation of Parent Associations of Algarve (FRAPAL).
The representatives of the Algarve's guardians went public to show their concern with the fact that the return to in-person classes is still an uncertainty and with the consequences that this can bring to the evolution of students – and the inequalities that it can foster.
In a statement, the federation says it understands that, "given the current situation in the country and the consequent extensions of the state of emergency, there is no other option than to go through the application of online content to end the school year."
However, it does not hide “two major concerns: the first – and most sensitive – access to higher education. The second, the method and contents of distance learning».
O Sul Informação he spoke with Nuno Sousa, president of FRAPAL, who explained that, as far as higher education is concerned, what parents and guardians want to ensure that there are equal opportunities for everyone who will apply for higher education.
“Our concerns about the 12th year are due to the fact that it is a critical year and one of access to college. We do not want them to be harmed, due to the flexibility of the curriculum. As the subjects, at national level, are different, we have to guarantee that what will appear in the exam will be what everyone managed to have access to in face-to-face classes, if we cannot guarantee the ability to teach these classes at a distance», he defended .
The federation's suggestion is that “a survey of the contents taught by all public and private schools” be carried out, to help with the process of preparing the exams. “Only in this way do we understand that the mechanisms for a fair assessment and application for access to higher education are guaranteed”.
As an alternative, FRAPAL admits the postponement of exams, if the Ministry of Education manages to “guarantee the possibility of having schools open again and finishing the school year, even if a little later, providing schools with all preventive measures to prevent a new outbreak of Covid-19».
«Given the critical situation that the country is facing and that these young people who are going to access Higher Education will start a new stage of at least three years, I don't see any inconvenience in slightly postponing access. Instead of entering September, students would enter October or November. I don't see there being any problems out there. It's not a month or two that will make a difference in the university path of these students», considered Nuno Sousa.
On the other hand, parents and guardians in the Algarve are concerned about how distance learning will be guaranteed in the region.
«Knowing the reality of the Algarve – and knowing in advance that there are no technological conditions in the homes of some students to guarantee the minimum requirements necessary for distance learning -, we propose that the government seek to carry out a survey of the conditions in Portuguese homes and take action with technology companies in our country, creating a partnership, and guaranteeing free access to broadband, for a limited time, and a tablets to present content to all those who do not meet the conditions. Only in this way will we be able to be sure of a device for exclusive use per student, thus reducing economic differences and guaranteeing equity in access to education», defends FRAPAL.
The federation also asks for “a survey of what content should be taught, as we believe that, with the curricular flexibility, the curricula of each school, each grouping are very fragmented, but the important thing is to comply with the curriculum for all”.
"The Ministry of Education should, with some urgency, define its strategy, define rules and propose the use at national level of uniform platforms, not forgetting to train teachers and students in their use", he adds.
However, this Saturday, it was announced that the Government intends to advance to teleschool, to be broadcast on an open channel on public television RTP.
In Nuno Sousa's view, this solution, by itself, is not enough.
«Nowadays, with access to information that children have, if it is not something directed and interactive, it is difficult. These days, there are few students in schools who really want to be there. How do we guarantee that the children who are watching these teleclasses are able to clarify doubts at the moment and that there is interactivity?», he asks.
«Basically, it's just a palliative, which involves believing that all students will see. The problem is that not all children have parents who are concerned about their teaching. In the Algarve, we have a very info-excluded population with less education. If it is an optional registration, I don't think it will work well», added the president of FRAPAL.
The entity that brings together the associations of parents and guardians in the Algarve, in the statement it issued, expressed concern with the fact that «2/3 of the population of the Algarve does not have the knowledge and capacity to replace the teachers, let alone the teachers. grandparents, who are often the caregivers at this stage, so that the parents can keep their jobs».
In this way, «the contents will have to guarantee the autonomy of the students, but not neglecting the fact that we have to create knowledge, a very complex task in the time that awaits us».
As far as distance learning based on new technologies is concerned, the federation points out some difficulties, despite recognizing “that students – or at least a part of them – are nowadays increasingly able to use new technologies”.
However, and since there is no non-optional subject in the 1st cycle curriculum with Information Technology and Computer content, «we are not able to guarantee a quality of distance learning».
«Knowing that it is possible, with some ease, to recover contents in the 1st cycle, we think that the conclusion of the school year for pre-school and 1st cycle education will not be urgent – or a priority. Students at less critical levels of education should be assessed taking into account only the assessments so far and we should start the next academic year earlier and make up for any missing content this year», considered FRAPAL.
“We believe that, from the 2nd cycle onwards, students will already have some ability to deal with computers and tablets, but we are convinced that it will not be enough to master some of the platforms adopted by the groups. The 3rd and secondary cycles, on the other hand, will already be able to adapt with less difficulty and look to this new era, to this challenge, and to make an effort to overcome the months to come», he added.
Also “assessment mechanisms, which still do not exist, namely with the teaching cycles where there will have to be a choice of students, or in moments of transition from cycles that are more demanding” worry parents. "Maybe it's time to reflect on whether the 9th grade exams are really important in this exceptional year."
“This remainder of the school year should be seen as learning for a more technological education, providing students and teachers with mechanisms to use in the near future, maturing ideas and learning from this pilot period”, concluded FRAPAL.
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