Children are clear on what they need in school: quality learning programme adapted for the 21st century
Belgrade, Serbia, June 2022 - Students of the Nikola Tesla Primary School in Belgrade are happy to return to regular classes and spend time together. They say they would like to be more involved in designing their school curriculum and class work, because school is where they spend most of their time.
We asked them what, in their opinion, schools need to deliver. The students came up with concrete answers. At the top of their list - teaching adapted to 21st century needs.
“Children now have to study things that are complicated and too broad, just to pass tests and get a grade. But they won’t need this knowledge and they won’t have any way to implement it in practice. We should be doing biology and chemistry experiments. We’ve actually never done them,” explains Dusan Vukmirovic.
Jaroslava Zonova, who came from Russia last year and has already learned Serbian, thinks that students in primary schools should have elective subjects which would contribute to modernizing schools.
“I think some elective subjects should be introduced so that children can expand their knowledge in several directions and better understand what they want to do. This will help them in the future when deciding what to do in their careers,” says Jaroslava.
The kind of school they want would consider their rights, as well as their feelings. There would be more practical classes and extracurricular activities.
“My favourite subject is biology. It’s easy to learn the lessons at my age, but it would be better to go to a museum,” says Stefan Milic whose favourite subject is biology.
Online classes introduced a novel approach in education. And the students want to continue using digital technologies in the future.
“[Making] the internet available to children during classes, to research something online. Now, which is very good, teachers have started showing us presentations, showing photos, playing video experiments. It would be good for every classroom to have its own router to make the internet stable enough and avoid problems when playing videos,” Emilija believes.
But students don’t only want fast internet, but also smart boards, to work in small groups, and virtual reality in classes.
“The virtual classroom would be a very good way to learn. Much better than [learning] just from books,” says Vukasin Krstic, a sixth-grade student.
The Nikola Tesla Primary School is a good example of inclusive practice. The students know this. They believe that it’s important that everyone has a place in their school.
“I think that the school should also adapt to children who need help. Simply, to ensure that everyone can get the same education and understand the lessons in the same way,” Marina Crnomarkovic is certain.
Students also believe that every school should have modern classrooms, gyms, and P.E. equipment, as well sports grounds. And to ensure all students are safe in schools.
The workshop, which was attended by 19 students, is one in a series of workshops organized by UNICEF to collect the opinions of everyone involved in the education process. That is a part of the commitment of all UN member states ahead of the Transforming Education Summit in September in New York.