Belgium (Flanders)

Evi Werkers, Flemish PA

Belgian educational institutions were closed starting from 16 March. The moment the Belgian government made this announcement, our educational publishers jumped into action immediately. Some of them opened their digital platforms for free to all pupils, others have extended the services within the subscriptions for free. Considering that some platforms were used by millions of users per day, all educational publishers had to make serious investments in expanding their capacity and support services. 

There is a lot of educational material available for free, including video material but also comic books, children’s’ books etc. The entire list of initiatives from the six biggest Flemish educational publishers so far can be found on the website Thuisleren.net/Learn at home launched by the Group of Educational and Scientific Publishers (GEWU).

In the week that followed we launched a campaign with the support of the Flemish Ministry for Education to highlight the importance of reading and learning (#verspreidhetleesvirus /spread the reading virus) gathering all initiatives from (and with) our members and to support the local bookstores (#winkelhier /buy local).

The Belgian government has extended the measures, all schools remain closed until the 3rd of May. Publishers as well as schools, teachers, students, and parents are preparing themselves for (at least) two more weeks of distance learning.

Brazil

Flavia Alves Bravin

In Brazil, we are trying to do our best to help our students, teachers, and schools. Some examples:

 

Denmark

Rune Larsen, BFU

Publishers in Denmark have opened up for all digital materials for all teachers and students for free during the school lockdown. All schools are closed and pupils are staying home so that has led to a massive increase in usage, in a country that was already using digital materials more than any other country. The digital/textbook market percentages are roughly 55% digital/45% analog. Publisher Associations are in close dialogue with Government to discuss next steps if schools remain closed after Easter.  

 

Estonia

Antti Rammo

Estonia has switched the schools to distance learning since 16 March. Like elsewhere, the usage of digital learning materials and other e-learning platforms has risen around 6-10 times, sometimes even more. Most educational publishers are offering their digital materials for free at least until the end of the distance learning period.

The goal is to end the school year as planned, meaning not to extend the school year due to the coronavirus. This is of course not only a huge challenge to the teachers and parents, but also to all digital services and a test of the quality of digital learning materials as well. The public and private sectors are working closely together to be able to monitor and measure the efficacy of ongoing digital learning processes in order to understand how sufficiently the curriculum has been delivered. It’s quite clear that this is a great change towards a lot more digital education system and that things will never be the same.

 

Finland

Sakari Laiho, Finnish PA

Finnish educational publishers have opened their K-9 electronical material to be used in distant learning. Only children on first three classes are allowed to go to school if their parents can’t stay at home because their jobs are crucial to the society. This donation is worth over 10 m€ which is equivalent to 15 % of the K-9 market.

Most vulnerable to this situation are the bookstores. They are still open but restrictions to the movement of people (social distancing) have left them without customers. With Booksellers Union the PA is trying to find special aid for the booksellers on top of the general measures there are in place to help entrepreneurs. Smaller publishers are on the focus of PA in this sense too. One effort was to plea government to drop VAT of the books temporarily to 0 %.

Finnish PA lunched social media campaign to promote reading in Corona isolation. It uses hashtag #kirjankanssakotona (in Finnish) and #hemmamedenbok (in Swedish) what means be home with a book.

Finnish PA publishes special Covid19 site on its webpages to give information to its members about situation and support mechanisms.

 

Georgia

Gvantsa Jobava, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association

Today in Georgia we have the official quarantine until 10th of May. All schools and universities in Georgia have been closed since 2 March and officially will be until the end of quarantine. But of course we never know what happens after above mentioned date, will be the quarantine prolonged or not. What means that maybe the educational process won’t be renewed until September at all.  

Just after the decision to close the schools and universities all Georgian publishers in collaboration with two main Georgian e book platforms saba.com.ge and lit.ge took the initiative to give to whole Georgian society free access to all Georgian e books on our market. So today more than 6000 e books are absolutely free for everyone, of course including pupils, students, and teachers. These free e books include all kinds of literature, text books of course and additional learning materials as well. Fiction and non-fiction books are also free, which can be used for home reading. It should also be mentioned that educational publishers uploaded electronic textbooks and additional learning materials on their websites as well absolutely for free. 

In the middle of March all the bookshops were closed and publishers and booksellers have very quickly developed home delivery services and online shopping of books, for those who preferred to buy the hard copies. But at the end of March Georgian government prohibited the online shopping of books and today there is no single channel in Georgia to sell the physical books. Regarding to this issue the position of Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association is quite strict, that this is an unfair, unjustified decision of our government, which will ruin the whole publishing industry in a very short period and on the other hand, today massively isolated people really need to have access to the books. So on 2 April GPBA together with Pen Georgia has published joint statement addressed to Georgian government and signed by more than 100 Georgian authors and publishers. Also, on 14th of April GPBA published online petition (addressed again to the government) which is still being signed by Georgian readers and their number is already nearly 1000. In both documents GPBA’s main request to the government is to give the official permission to the publishers and booksellers to sell their books online and deliver them to the readers at home. In spite of this huge trouble, more than 6000 e books still remain absolutely free for Georgian readers.       

Also each publisher in Georgia has its brilliant initiatives to held online lectures, meetings with authors, book presentations, book readings, all done through Facebook, Zoom, Webinar. Also, already plenty of blogs have been written, TV programs prepared to offer to the audience what to read and to advise why reading is so important in these difficult days. Not only publishers, writers, literary personalities, but a lot of famous people from different fields are involved in this campaign. So, book reading is one of the most popular topics in Georgia today, because now, when people are under conditions of mass isolation, they are choosing the book as one of their main means of survival. 

Besides, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association announced that will take its World Book and Copyright Day observances online on April 23, rather than cancelling and expects to offer to online audience a wide range of features. We decided to shift online, to stay strong and give an example to our partners and our society: crisis gives us huge opportunity for innovation. 

As for ‘distance learning’ itself, it is a big challenge for our country because this method doesn’t have any important background in Georgia, we all started from the very beginning, but we already have success. Huge part of educational organizations, public or private already managed to start online lessons. Still we have problems in regions, especially in villages, because there is less of access to the Internet or to the equipment. That’s why under the decision of Ministry of Education since 30 March Georgian Public Broadcaster launched `TV School`. This new model of school lessons also need further development but is quite interesting and promising experiment.  

 

Germany

Ilas Körner-Wellershaus, Bildungsmedien

The Corona pandemic has caused a lockdown of all schools and Kindergarten in Germany. Only ‘emergency groups’ in the Kindergarten and primary schools are open for those families who work in system-relevant jobs and cannot look after their children. 

Because only few schools have taught with digital structures and media so far, teachers, students, parents and ministries – the whole educational system is facing a very creative situation to use digital potentials for home schooling. The German Association of Educational Publishers (Verband Bildungsmedien) has launched a special site, where we collect all offerings from our members during the time of the lockdown - with the best user rates:

https://www.bildungsmedien.de/index.php/presse/pressemeldungen/item/4424-digitales-lehren-und-lernen-kostenlose-materialien-und-webinare-der-bildungsmedienverlage 

Educational publishers offer a lot of special solutions and tips but also free materials. Mostly every publisher gives the e-books of printed textbooks for this period for free. Enriched e-books are offered as usual. 

The “digital pact school” between the national government and Lander has a budget of €5bn, but procuring learning solutions was excluded. Now the national government discusses to give €100m free to buy learning materials and licenses. Teachers very often ask educational publishers for copyright rules, to know which of these materials can be shared, and how.

 

Ireland

The Irish Educational Publishers Association has issued two public statements on the provision of open access to all their online educational resources to teachers, parents and students resulting in a 1,000% increase in the number of users accessing online educational resources and in excess of 35,000 students and parents accessing curriculum based content from educational publishers on a daily basis.

 

Netherlands

Stephan de Valk, GEU

All schools and universities are closed since 16 March. On 24 March the MoE took the decision to cancel all central exams in SE. Implications of this measure have to be elaborated.

Just after the decision of closing the schools, educational publishers together with distributors and suppliers of learning environments took the initiative to provide all pupils with the digital material related to the paper learning materials already in use. 

The consideration not to provide teachers and pupils with all available digital learning materials is related to the concept of ‘zone of proximal development’: as the context in which education has to take place changes a lot, don’t bother teachers and pupils with new stuff.

A lot of effort is put into getting teachers and pupils connected in such a way that they are not only getting access to the digital learning materials, but ‘result tracking’ is possible as well. Please keep in mind that a majority of teachers and pupils already had access to digital learning materials, so this initiative is ‘additional’.

Schools report first encouraging results on ‘distance learning’. In a meeting of several representatives of public councils and private associations (like ours) later this week, we will discuss how to get a better insight on what is ‘really’ happening. At least server capacity needed is a multiplication of what was needed before 16 March.

 

Portugal

Vasco Teixeira

Portugal is under Emergency State, which has just been extended for another fortnight. Schools were closed on 13 March and it is unlikely they will reopen this academic year. For now, government still allows some industrial activities to operate but all commerce except for food, medicine, and newspapers are prohibited, as well as all kinds of events.

Educational publishers have opened their digital platforms, with digital textbooks and educational resources, so almost a million students can access them for free. Teachers are trying to be in contact with their students, mostly through the publishers or cooperative work platforms, in order to keep them active in the learning process.

 

Turkey

Turkish PA

  • In Turkey educational publishers are trying to do their best to support students, teachers, and parents. A lot of educational publishers, especially those who have the digital infrastructure, have opened a lot of their resources online for free.
  • The Turkish Publishers Association, through our ongoing EU-funded project OKUYAY (Platform to Disseminate Reading Culture), we have started a social media campaign: #evdeyimokuyorum (I’m home, I’m reading). Within this campaign, we have been promoting reading at home for everyone. We have also started to publish 1 minute videos recommending books to read by publishers, authors, writers and influencers. 
  • The Turkish Publishers Association, we have started a project in partnership with the Istanbul Municipality (IBB) where authors will be recommending a book and a film they like, through the social media channels of IBB, every day for 30 days.
  • There are also a lot of #campaigns, free content, discounts, online events, special blog series, etc. among trade publishers.
  • The Turkish Publishers Association scans through and shares the daily developments in world publishing with its members and on its social media accounts, with the aim to show best practices and inspire with some of these shares.

 

UAE

Rawan Dabbas, Emirates PA

Here in the UAE, the approach taken on a federal level and states was initially phased out but now consistent. Here are some of the most recent updates:

  • Last week, the EPA had its first Zoom board meeting in which we discussed with our fellow publisher board members different solutions on how we can support our publishers in these hard times and use our resources to provide electronic access to their books etc. We will be discussing these ideas in more detail this coming week and will of course share our plans with you as soon as they take shape. Many of our publishers have already started to look at new ways of selling books although unfortunately this can be more challenging for small to medium sized publishers, something that EPA is looking to support in the upcoming weeks. 
  • In terms of libraries and access to books, many libraries across the UAE are providing free onlineaccess to their materials. For example, Sharjah public library has offered 6 million books and resources offered worldwide for three months in different languages (these include 21,000 scientific studies, a library of 30,000 videos in all disciplines, 160,000 e-books, 5 million academic dissertations and theses, in addition to a collection of manuscripts, rare books and audiobooks.)
    https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/press-releases/story/6_million_books_and_resources_offered_to_readers_worldwide_for_free_by_Sharjah_Public_Libraries-ZAWYA20200326082141/
  • In relation to schools and higher education, both public and private schools as well as higher education institutions and universities were meant to start spring break mid-March, which was made to start earlier as a COVID precaution (7 March which was due to start 29 March). The Ministry of Health had taken this opportunity to sanitize those schools – especially ones where there were cases of positive COVID.
  • A circular from the ministry of education has also banned the circulation and/or distribution and exchange of any paper materials
    https://www.khaleejtimes.com/coronavirus-outbreak/coronavirus-in-uae-some-schools-suspend-distribution-of-books
  • The UAE implemented distance learning for all students in the UAE from 22 March . This was only meant to last until after spring break; but this week it was announced that this will be the case until the completion of the 2019-20 academic year in June. The decision applies on all UAE public and private schools and higher education institutions.

The following bullet points are taken from the Ministry of Education’s website highlighting the steps taken to ensure the successful implementation of the distance learning process:
(https://u.ae/en/information-and-services/education/distance-learning-in-times-of-covid-19) :

  • conducting a one-week remote professional training for more than 25,000 government school teachers and administrators, in addition to more than 9,200 private school teachers and principals
  • coordinating with Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in launching a free online course 'Be an online tutor in 24 hours' to provide the teaching and academic personnel with the skills of operating online classrooms
  • instructing the private schools to implement the distance learning system with a view to ensuring the continuity of the learning process as per the approved mechanisms and plans
  • allowing private schools to use their own distance learning system and assigning monitoring and follow-up committees and teams to ensure that the process of distance learning in private schools is being followed
  • establishing two advanced operations centers to follow up on the distance learning processes. These centers are equipped with modern systems and screens that enable the school operations sector to monitor the learning process and ensure smooth experience with the information technology resources and effective communication between students and teachers
  • facilitating a technical helpline for students and parents to resolve any issues they might encounter in the due course
  • coordinating with Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Du and Etisalat to facilitate free mobile internet package for families in the UAE who have no home internet connection.
  • To ensure students’ compliance with the schools’ values and systems through the distance learning, Ministry of education launched a guidelines and instructions manual titled ‘Students’ Behaviour Management - Distance Learning 2020’ (PDF, 540 KB). The document lists acts and omissions that may be regarded as offences committed by students; offences are categorised on the basis of the degree of their seriousness. The document also mentions procedures for dealing with offences. It also enumerates roles and responsibilities of stakeholders such as the school administration, parents and counsellors.
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