Teaching during the Pandemic

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Sanobar Khudaybergenova for USAID

When the heels start tapping on the floor, filling the hall with an aura, everyone at school knows that the director is in the house. Shohida Yuldasheva passes by a table with sanitizer and a non-contact thermometer in the hall and enters her office to leave her belongings. Then she walks back to the entrance to greet children rushing to school. “For me, work comes first,” Shohida says. “Everything else goes smoothly, when work is taken care of.”  Everyday Shohida monitors the classes, communicates with students and their parents, and holds meetings with her staff. 

It’s been two years since Shohida, an English teacher and a mother of three, was appointed as the director of a school in Keles, a satellite town two kilometers away from Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital. With her new role she quickly learned one truth. “The plans you make at home for the day can change easily when you step into a school with nearly 1,500 children,” she says. This was especially the case, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, devastating the education sector across Uzbekistan.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Telegram was virtually the only application used by teachers across the country to communicate with students, especially in rural areas. Teacher-student communication consisted of exchanging assignments and homework in the form of attachments. Parents quickly realized that the internet was needed and required in their homes so that their children could have access to education.

“The pandemic revealed that our education system wasn’t prepared to switch to online teaching,” Shohida stresses. “Although Keles is located in the outskirts of the capital city, some of the families did not have access to the internet at home. Besides, teachers did not have any experience using online platforms to teach.”

To help their teachers better understand and utilize remote learning, Shohida along with other school directors in the Tashkent area began searching for virtual courses and reached out to the Avloniy Institute, a teacher training center under the Ministry of Public Education located in Tashkent. There she found out about Webinar Wednesdays - virtual online workshops that covered a range of education topics. 

In April 2020, USAID deployed a global education advisor to provide support to the Ministry of Public Education during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included preparation for schools reopening, development of clear criteria and guidelines for school directors on safe school reopening, as well as strategies for directors, teachers and parents on how to support students during the pandemic. 

The USAID advisor also assisted the Avloniy Institute in hosting about 20 webinar series which covered topics ranging from the development and utilization of digital platforms, safe school operations and condensing curricula, to examples of how schools were reopening in Australia and New Zealand.  These webinars brought together educators, more than 1500 teachers from over 350 schools across Uzbekistan, and created opportunities for international education experts to share their knowledge and experiences. The webinars also allowed Uzbekistani teachers to discuss how they applied the lessons learned from these webinars in their day-to-day teaching and the positive impacts that has had on student learning. 

In 2021, USAID’s Uzbekistan Education for Excellence program continued to partner with the Avloniy Institute on joint webinar series for schools and teachers to discuss the development of student standards in Uzbekistan and how implementing standards-based education helps teachers and principals and improves children’s education.

“These webinars exposed us to international best practices and modern pedagogy, ensuring that we are better prepared to provide effective teaching despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. The real examples of education at schools during the COVID-19 of other countries helped me find answers to some tiny but important questions,” Shohida says.

Last updated: March 15, 2022

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