Estonian startup opens e-lecture rooms for Ukrainian refugees

Pursuing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Estonian education entrepreneur Maria Rahamägi is making use of her ed-tech system to bring Ukrainian college students and lecturers some semblance of normalcy, by opening online lecture rooms where they can come across solace in community, continue to forge their personal identities and reassert their right to self-perseverance.  

Two yrs in the past, Rahamägi introduced Edumus, an modern programme that pairs industry experts throughout a extensive selection of industries with faculties in Estonia. The idea was born of her realisation that there is a widening hole in between the expanding hyper-specialisation of the fashionable workforce and what college students are ready for on graduating significant college.

“The education procedure is a completely standalone type of entity and quite disconnected from the other industries, which are not able to really go on like this,” Rahamägi tells Estonian Globe. “Because perform is getting to be so substantially far more various and specific, we need to have to have these connections already in there, in the instruction process, so students realize why and what they are understanding, and give them some thoughts what to do in the long run.”

Nonetheless, whilst the enthusiasm for her project was high, the logistics of essentially positioning experts with no instructing qualifications in schools proved a little bit additional challenging. “We have much more than 350 really educated industry experts who experienced signed up to turn into element of the programme, and about half of Estonian faculties. Nonetheless, we didn’t control to get as numerous instructors to schools so much as we in the beginning wanted.”

Rahamägi places it down to a lack of administrative resources, experience and a complete whole lot of pink tape concerned with using the services of and onboarding new instructors. By the way, she sees these obstacles as a testomony to just how entrenched the present education and learning method is in outdated guidelines that never reflect the modern day environment.

However, rather of losing time attempting to navigate the bureaucracy of public instruction, Rahamägi and her group opted to do the job around it by launching an e-studying platform that operates together with the standard technique, even though continuing to perform in just that procedure and bit by bit finding industry gurus placed at school websites.

“We are partnering with superior schools listed here in Estonia, so their college students can choose topics from our university as well. So if beforehand they experienced just some options from their college, now they have so a great deal more with this length understanding school, and it can also give them an option to examine alongside one another with pupils throughout the region.”

Maria Rahamägi. Photograph by Edumus.

Schooling in situations of crisis

Next the results of the flagship task in Estonia, Rahamägi began environment her sights on growing the operation overseas, with the hope of eventually facilitating worldwide programmes that convey pupils from myriad backgrounds into the very same classroom.

1 of the next nations on her record happened to be Ukraine, and Edumus was deep in the procedure of sending pros to educate specialised elective programs at a variety of schools throughout the location.

Then, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin’s, army released its invasion.

Yet again, however, alternatively of calling the full detail off, Rahamägi and Edumus resolved to pivot, viewing a a lot required service in the rising disaster.

“We, of course, understood that there’s no issue of conversing about elective topics any longer,” explains Rahamägi. “Now, it’s the dilemma, how will we make certain the ongoing education for the refugees who are coming to Estonia and all the other nations around the world as well.”

The result is the School of Hope, a length learning platform exclusively developed for Ukrainians the two in the nation and overseas, as perfectly as Ukrainian teachers who have been displaced by the war.

“As we currently had some knowledge with beginning colleges and choosing lecturers, we resolved to get started the University of Hope, which is a college for refugee children and we are using the services of refugee instructors.”

Maria Rahamägi (third from suitable, back again row) with some of the Edumus’ College of Hope teachers. Image by Edumus.

The University of Hope formally launched on 14 March with 180 registered pupils, the greater part of whom are now in search of refuge in Estonia. Similarly, they are in the approach of employing 10 Ukrainian academics, with another 86 expressing desire, as effectively as the head of a non-public school in Ukraine who Rahamägi is hoping to deliver on to run the new initiative.

As Rahamägi sees it, the College of Hope is a great deal additional than a mere classroom, nor is it basically a way for pupils to hold up with their scientific studies. At its main, the University of Hope is a highly effective group and a needed hyperlink to their culture.

“Right now, the focus has just been on restoring the routine for the kids and giving them an possibility to socialise in their mom tongue and discover one thing in their mother tongue. And then, as time goes by, we will commence placing more emphasis on acquiring this balanced education of all subject areas. Suitable now, we’re just running it with the velocity of how we can involve new academics and new learners.”

A screenshot from the Edumus’ School of Hope on-line system for Ukrainian little ones.

Edumus, the University of Hope and the foreseeable future of education

Crises often foster innovation, as communities and establishments are pushed to their restrictions, all but forced to picture new modes of working and surviving. In that perception, it could be argued that the wave of campus closures following the COVID-19 pandemic set the phase for Edumus and the Faculty of Hope’s length learning product. This, coupled with Rahamägi’s assertion that standard university systems are failing learners could signal a new frontier in education and learning.

“With the distance learning and the strategies that we are employing, we would like to be the frontrunners of the upcoming education and learning method. For the reason that appropriate now the training program nevertheless performs in a pretty related way like it did a hundred many years in the past. Nevertheless, considerably far more personalisation is desired in the training system and integration with other industries.”

Ukrainian teachers and refugee small children who have joined the Edumus’ School of Hope, on a going for walks vacation in Estonia in March 2022. Photo by Edumus.

To back up her statements, Rahamägi points to a remark designed in 2019 by Andreas Schleicher, director of the OECD Directorate for Schooling and Techniques, “Education is no longer about teaching learners one thing by itself it is far more essential to be instructing them to acquire a trusted compass and the navigation tools to discover their individual way in a entire world that is progressively sophisticated, unstable and uncertain.”

And it is not just pupils who are staying left driving by the more and more archaic education program, but instructors way too. With regards to applying new versions, Rahamägi describes that, “Right now, the minister of education suggests indeed, enable the educational institutions do it. The university is like ok, let the teachers do it. But we’re placing so a great deal on the teacher’s desk, they just can’t manage it. They have plenty of administrative jobs, they have to perform with pupils and they have to function with particular wants college students, and there is human limits to what they can do.”

Ukrainian teachers and refugee young children who have joined the Edumus’ School of Hope, on a strolling trip in Estonia in March 2022. Image by Edumus.

Returning to the 2019 OECD report, “Future of Education and learning and Expertise 2030”, and Edumus’s location within just it, Rahamägi elaborates, “The instruction process has to prepare college students and young children for this a lot more uncertain long run. And [the report] compares this common schooling process with the foreseeable future education and learning procedure, which has to be far more built-in into the other industries, and the place the instruction procedure is everybody’s obligation, it’s not only teachers’ or schools’ obligation any longer to be able to provide this foreseeable future-proof schooling, since it is just unachievable to do that.

“And I see that with the method we have taken with Edumus, actually heavily involving experts in the instructing, and by involving them component-time, we are creating these strong hyperlinks among the instruction method and the sector wherever they are coming from. And now, remaining able to do that with length understanding, it enables all college students, no issue their location, to be in a position to be part of, tune in, and get started discovering.”