Inspired by the April issue of the ASPnet newsletter "We are global citizens", the National Coordination of ASPnet Germany called on the German UNESCO Associated Schools to contact their partner schools worldwide and create a symbol of solidarity during the global crisis. Schools and other partners from 26 countries and five continents sent in photos, videos and texts about their experiences during the pandemic. How are students, teachers and their families affected by school closures in their respective countries? What does the pandemic mean for the daily lives of the people? And what are sources of hope during difficult times? These were the questions various partners, among them ASPnet schools from Belgium, France and Senegal, gave answers to.
While a poster published by the German National Coordination displays photos of all contributions to the call, a corresponding leaflet provides deeper insights into the situations and realities in different parts of the world. The global pandemic and closures of schools mean more than just the interruption of education. In some regions, children and youth now miss out on their daily wholesome meal as usually provided by their schools and for many, the psychosocial consequences of the crisis are severe as well. However, the leaflet also tells encouraging stories: in the south of Madagascar, students are working hard to pass their final exams and attend college next year, and in Chile new virtual formats led to an ongoing exchange and cooperation between teachers and parents.
To make the picture more diverse and give room to voices from further countries, a special webpage has been created featuring reports from 13 schools and organisations from India to Chile (German language only)
Poster and leaflet are also available for download here (world map in English language). Additionally, the webpage offers the opportunity to watch the short movie "Messages from Bergamo" produced by Istituto d'Istruzione Superiore Caterina Caniana Polo della Grafica e della Moda, partner of the German ASPnet school Alexander von Humboldt Schule in Rüsselsheim. In a poetic statement, students show what they miss most in times of the pandemic.
The pandemic also has an impact on the school partnerships themselves: many German ASPnet schools will not be able to conduct long-planned exchange trips, encounter journeys and dialogue projects with their partners this year. However, the call "We are all global citizens" has opened up opportunities to stay connected and even prompted further digital projects, for example between schools in Berlin and Brussels, Bremen and Nairobi. Thus, UNESCO Associated Schools and their partners worldwide are finding ways to deal with the consequences of the pandemic together. The school partnerships enable educational processes in the spirit of international understanding and solidarity – even and particularly in times of COVID-19.