International Summit of the Varkey Foundation Ambassadors

To every question, education is the answer 

The three Best Educators of Serbia, Ivana Kovačević, Katarina Veljković and Željana Radojičić-Lukić, who were selected in the Top 50 best teachers in the world at the GTP (Global Teacher Prize) (Global Teacher Prize) participated in the international summit of the Varkey Foundation,.

The WTA (Warkey Teacher Ambassadors) international summit, which was attended by our Best Educators, has been held online this year with over 200 teachers from 180 countries. They gathered on Monday, May 4, still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

At the beginning of the summit, the participants were addressed by the founder of the Varkey Foundation, Sunny Varkey, on behalf of the international organization UNESCO-Stefania Giannini and on behalf of the organization ECW (Education cannot wait) Yasmine Sherif. As the organizers of this conference, they welcomed all teachers around the world and said that even in this situation, education cannot wait.

The focus of the summit was on education in the current situation caused by the occurrence of the Coronavirus and the declared pandemic. Participants discussed the creation of a new education system that would be adapted to crisis situations. Through interaction, teachers had the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences, as well as to suggest learning models in the coming period. The fact that all teachers agreed on is that digital technologies will not be able to replace them.

Ivana Kovačevićthe best educator in Serbia according to the selection of the Association "Živojin Mišić" and this year's finalist of the Global Teacher Prize, confirmed that it is a great honor to meet at this important summit with colleagues from around the world and discuss some of the most important issues of education today. She emphasized that the situation we found ourselves in in the previous period was a test for all teachers and said that this participation offers valuable acquaintances, cooperation with colleagues and exchange of practical solutions and experiences. 

Ivana points out that it was important to her that she had the opportunity to participate in interesting discussions that referred to the impact of school dropouts among students. Ivana herself works with children who are often in that situation, since they are in home or hospital treatment, and that is why she knows how important it is to give them the opportunity for continuous schooling. Varkey Ambassadors agreed that missed school days should not adversely affect the generation altered by the disruption of the traditional way of schooling. 

Ivana has been involved in education at home and in hospital for many years, and that is why she was especially interested in the session in which the models of this teaching were discussed. Teachers who work with students in difficult conditions (due to their health condition), struggle with time on a daily basis and overcome various obstacles.
Today, when the whole world is affected by the Coronavirus, all teachers have found themselves in a similar situation. A significant part of that preparation also relies on the experiences of teachers who have been teaching online in hospitals for years.

During this prestigious international summit, discussions on various topics were started. Katarina Veljković (declared one of the Top 50 in 2019) emphasized that the inequality of the educational system and the technical and material gap, which has increased due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, were discussed. Problems of unequal access to quality education due to distance learning have surfaced. In addition, the differences between schools in the city and the countryside, between poor and rich countries, were discussed. Some WTAs pointed out the pedagogical volunteering of students and young people, who help teachers in schools organize classes. This type of volunteering has proven to be very important around the world, and the summit confirmed the opinion that this practice should be continued even when the pandemic ends.

Katarina shared another aspect of education that was discussed - the psychological health of students and teachers. Some of the participants expressed the view that a significant number of teachers globally are depressed and stressed due to the pandemic. One of the conclusions of the summit is the importance of nurturing mental and physical health care for both teachers and students.

Željana Radojičić-Lukić (declared one of the Top 50 in 2018) got the impression that all teachers regardless of their situation and the reaction of the educational systems of their countries realized that the school was not what they thought of it before the pandemic. She believes that teachers and students lack live contact, closeness, empathy, support and affection for each other during distance learning. She thinks that the current Coronavirus situation has shown the irreplaceability of teachers in classrooms, and that modern technologies cannot replace their living word or interaction with their students.   

Thanks to their participation in this conference, the holders of the title of the Best Educator of Serbia Ivana, Katarina and Željana together with colleagues from all over the world had the opportunity to influence the change of global educational policy, strategy and practice. With their participation, the ideas, experiences and educational attitudes of the best Serbian teachers gained strength and opened the space for improving knowledge and close connection with the world.

We especially emphasize Ivana's words of gratitude, "I thank the Association "Živojin Mišić" for organizing a national competition that contributed to our teachers being on the world stage and influencing the creation of new educational policies."

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