Primary and secondary school students will continue their distance learning classes until 10 June, i.e. they will not return to their classrooms, while high school graduates will be exempted from taking the final exam this year and will be able to enroll with a diploma issued for secondary education at any of the high education institutions in the country. This is only part of the set of measures that the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted at today’s session at the proposal of the Ministry of Education and Science.
The Minister of Education, Arber Ademi, stated at a press conference that this is a set of nine measures, which ensure smooth functioning of the educational system in these extraordinary circumstances and conditions caused by the emergence and spread of the virus COVID-19.
“The current school year will continue to be realized by organizing distance learning, i.e. learning from home. The crisis period seems to be passing slowly, but there is still a risk to citizens’ health. Hence, students will not return to their classrooms until 10 June. I appeal to and encourage all participants in the educational process to engage as much as possible and continue to fulfill their obligations and make a joint contribution so that the quality of distance learning rises as high as possible above the optimal level,” Ademi stated, noting that all teachers who have been engaged with fixed-term employment contracts until the day of declaring a state of emergency, will have their contracts extended until the end of the school year, and, also, an appropriate replacement will be provided for each new teacher vacancy.
The other measure refers to the enrollment of first graders, which normally and pursuant to the law starts in May, however according to the current conditions, will start in June.
“Thus, parents and guardians will have time to prepare, to provide certificates for mandatory vaccines, as well as for dental and ophthalmological examinations by a competent health institution” Ademi said, adding that the lists of newly enrolled students will be published by schools no later than 15 July.
The next two measures, the minister said, guarantee that no school during the state of emergency will be left without management structures and administrative bodies. They have the obligation to organize the flow of work smoothly and primarily in the interest of students and teachers, i.e. the mandates of the school management are extended, as well as, the principals licenses.
As for the students in the final year of high school, they are exempted from taking the state matura, school matura and the final exam in the academic year 2019/2020.
“This, also, applies to candidates who started taking exams in one of the previous years, but failed and applied for re-examination this school year,” Ademi said, adding that all final year students will receive a diploma that will be as valid as diplomas issued in previous school years.
“In this way, we want to help them eliminate the stress of preparing for their final high school exam in these extraordinary circumstances and enable them to start the search for a suitable job, or to continue their education at a higher, academic level,” Ademi said, noting that, in addition to those who have passed the state matura in one of the past years or international matriculation exam, all persons who have obtained a diploma for a completed four-year secondary education this year will be able to enroll at university in the country.
The next measure, related to high education, refers to the continuation of the validity of study programs in all three cycles. The study programs which ceased to be valid in the 2019/2020 academic year, are extended for one additional year, while the deadlines for adopting a decision for accreditation, a decision to commence work on a new study programs or high education institution is extended for 3 months from the termination of the state of emergency.
“Exercising of all other rights in the field of education continues, i.e. the payment of financial benefits based on an acquired scholarship, as well as, one of the one-time financial benefits such as financing the publication of scientific papers, and the like. Within two weeks following the termination of the state of emergency, we will announce a call to cover travel expenses and registration fees for primary school students and their mentors for participating in international competitions,” Ademi said.
This set of measures has been prepared in cooperation with a number of other competent institutions in the field of education, with the support of civil society and partner organizations and they guarantee smooth functioning of the educational system in these extraordinary conditions.
“Certainly, as an institution, we are still open for talks, cooperation, good and constructive ideas, suggestions and proposals that are worth considering. The education plan is not of closed type, on the contrary, it can be supplemented at any time in the best interest of citizens,” the Minister concluded.