How COVID-19 have Enforced Social Inequalities – Experience of Estonian Teachers [PDF]

Karmen Trasberg
University of Tartu, Estonia

Abstract: Students across the world have missed face-to-face instruction due to COVID-19 for many months. While schools have made valiant efforts to continue the provision of learning for students, the success of those efforts has varied, and has often been hindered by limited access to technologies and high-speed broadband available in the homes of teachers and students. The changes have enforced existing social inequalities because of insufficient skills, resources, time or health to assist children with remote learning. Closing schools disrupted the education of all children, but some will have coped better than others. Children are differentially advantaged, reflecting their background and circumstances.
The aim of this article is to explore how Estonian teachers have experienced the teaching and learning remotely during the first lockdown period in 2020 and what are the possible consequences for vulnerable studentʹ groups.
The paper draws on a qualitative method study based on recent interviews with teachers (n = 20) in ten schools. It turned out from the study that there are positive attitudes towards using digital tools in the learning process, but it has not clear impact on the development of digital skills. The results indicated that there is a fragmentation and wide variety of approaches practiced in Estonian general education schools and not all students benefited from the best practices of distance learning. One of the main threats to students with special educational needs (SEN) was the interruption of their study routine, including support services and creating a new daily structure for activities. The involvement of parents and the opportunity to contribute to supporting their children’s home learning played a major role.
Keywords: COVID-19, inequality, remote learning, teacherʹs skills, vulnerable learners.

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2021 = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2021
Rīga, University of Latvia, 2021. 1148 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-735-3