COVID-19 AGE EDUCATION: SCHOOL YEAR STARTED ACROSS KAZAKHSTAN
NUR-SULTAN – As noted recently by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “education and digital technology are two of the most important investments we can make, as we respond to COVID-19 and lay the foundations for a strong recovery and the achievement of the SDGs”. As the school year has kicked-off in Kazakhstan, some 3.3 mln schoolchildren, 466,000 high school students and more than 600,000 university students began a new academic year on 1 September. While the majority will continue to study via distance learning via a mix of technologies, such as elearning platforms and TV broadcasting, about 780,000 primary schoolchildren will study in special groups at schools. Earlier, Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan Askhat Aimagambetov said that the current approach to studying is a combined one. It depends on the epidemiological situation. Children in grades 1-4 can study in the special classes at the request of their parents, with a limitation of up to 15 children per classroom. At the same time, sanitary requirements will be strictly observed with constant temperature checks of both children and teachers, mandatory masks, frequent use of sanitizers, cleaning, airing and quartzing the classrooms.
On 31 August during the WHO high-level meeting on schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic Minister of Health of Kazakhstan Alexey Tsoy stated that Kazakhstan will support the implementation of the Framework on safe schooling in the time of COVID-19, and mentioned that indicators and measures proposed in the document are feasible for the country. On 26-28 August, UNICEF in partnership with the National Center for Public Health Care supported a three-day training on child injury prevention for 45 school health workers, educational staff and parents of schoolchildren. The aim is to increase knowledge and ensure there is understanding of roles and responsibilities of adults in creating a safe environment for children, as well as reducing the number of unintentional childhood injuries, including during COVID-19. More on emergency health response on page 2.
IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING DURING AND AFTER COVID-19
Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office for Kazakhstan Krista Pikkat in her Op-Ed noted that stringent lockdowns and lack of social interactions with peers have adversely impacted the emotional and physical health of children. Young adults abruptly lost access to quality education, employment, and other social, cultural, and professional opportunities for growth and development. Since March, the UNESCO Almaty Office has engaged with and supported the Ministries of Education in Central Asia through promoting policy dialogue, organizing capacity-building, and developing quality online educational content. UNESCO Almaty is conducting a series of online trainings on various digital tools and distance learning solutions for ministry officials and teachers throughout the year. The trainings will teach instructors to use Learning Management Systems and Content Management Systems, develop high-quality content for distance learning, and assess student work during remote learning. More on risk communications on page 3.
UN SUPPORTS KAZAKHSTAN IN MEDICAL WASTE DISPOSAL
On 25 August within joint UNDP and ADB project the equipment for treatment of infectious waste and containers for safe waste collection was handed over to the Nur-Sultan City Centre of Phthisiopulmonology, which had been redesigned to serve patients with COVID-19. Immediate disposal of medical waste inside hospitals can prevent the spread of an infection outside of the premises and decrease COVID-19 cases among health workers. It is expected that the new UNDP-ADB initiative will help design standard operation procedures for health workers and enhance their capacity to properly collect, sort, transport, dispose and monitor medical waste in hospitals. The project will also develop effective digital healthcare waste management database for all the regions of Kazakhstan. The new initiative is expected to lay the foundation for a sustainable medical waste management system not only under COVID-19 conditions, but also beyond. More on socio-economic response on page 2.