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Taiwan & India Coping With School Closures Through Various Community Efforts And Alliance Programs

24.3.2020 | BY KATIJA ALADIN

Students, their parents and educators are feeling the extraordinary ripple effect of the novel coronavirus as schools shut down and quarantine methods are ordered amidst the public health emergency. In this series, we want to share best practices from our community and how our educators and innovators are managing school shutdowns, distance learning and more. 


YenYin Wang, Institute for Information Industry, Digital Education Institute, Innovative Learning Center, Smart School Alliance/ Taipei

The Taiwan community is coping pretty well since the outbreak of the virus, keeping our diagnosis count below 60 people. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, school has been suspended nation-wide until the end of February, leaving a gap in student’s education. 

Founded in 2013, Smart School Alliance has integrated resources from over 100 partners, developed over 100 programs including over 1000 schools in Taiwan and around the globe. It has always been our goal to implement technology into the education field, innovating the way people learn. The alliance started as a trial of educational methods, and has now been introduced into formal education systems in Taiwan in 2019. After the outbreak of the virus, we quickly took action to offer our community free courses on our learning platform CoreLab, a Code learning platform that used to focus on Adult Coding lessons, now focusing on K-12 education with JavaScript and Python coding lessons for beginners.

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We also offered free Language lessons on our YouTube Channel and arranged streaming courses to introduce live-streaming and share how it could be used as a solution during these extreme times to our partners. After all, live-streaming is one of the best on-line ways to connect and interact with the community.

Supported by MOEA, we have also called to our partners to support us in this critical situation, and have received response from over 50 partners of ours to help provide our community with different methods to keep learning even when they are off campus.

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Abhijit Sinha, Founder & Director, Project DEFY

The pandemic and panic are both recent to India & Rwanda and have not yet reached alarming numbers (surprisingly) as in nations like China, Italy and so on. But it is surely moving in that direction and we are expecting a need for very strong measures.

So far, we see that the spaces we have in cities and especially universities are showing high concern. Some of our Project DEFY spaces in Universities are already facing temporary closure as the Universities may close for the time being as well. From our rural spaces we do not see yet a high level of alarm, but based on government advisory and keeping in mind our responsibility towards learners and staff, we are likely to pause these learning environments as well. 

What we have started with is to ensure hand wash and sanitizers are made available at all times at all of our spaces. This is anyway a practice, however, we now insist that learners entering the space should first thoroughly wash their hands. We are creating an advisory on masks for personal safety. 

Beyond this we are developing a small info-video or session to explain about the virus, the current global situation and what it means for them and their community. We are also describing there what personal measures can be taken to stay safe. This session will be run at every Nook and other spaces we have by the DEFY staff. 

We are also trying to learn from others who are running community programs on what they are doing for safety and continued learning. 

We are also keeping an eye on Government advisories, and have discussed the need to close the spaces temporarily if the situation gets worse. We are trying to find what ways can there be to enable continuation of learners' projects from their homes. Due to shared resources this may be tough, but maybe there are some ways. 

This may also be required for our office, replacing at-office work with work-from-home. 


We thank our community members like YenYin Wang and Abhijit Sinha for doing the hard work, putting the students needs first and labouring their way to create resources on the fly. For more articles, innovations & resources, head to our Educator Toolkit especially designed to support educators & parents during this COVID-19 outbreak.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Katija Aladin
Education Specialist & Researcher