"COVID-19: Reflections by the ASPnet community" – Thank you!

Dear National Coordinators,
​ Dear Teachers and Students,​​

I am very proud to say that our first global webinar, held on 12 May 2020, was a big success with more than 620 participants from over 80 countries. 

Our voices, your experiences and ideas were the heart and soul of the webinar. Testimonies by the invited teachers, students and parents as speakers from different regions made us aware of the reality on the ground. Each one of their stories moved our heart and inspired our mind. We learned so much from this webinar. Thank you to you all who were there to share the moment of solidarity.

I particularly appreciated the over 300 mindful contributions by the participants flown in throughout the over-90-minute webinar from all over the world through chat, which reflected key issues shared at  the  discussion, including those vocal interventions from Greece, Canada, Japan and Germany.  It is also a great encouragement for our team to continue receiving overwhelming positive feedback from you, dear ASPnet members, participants, as well as colleagues and experts within UNESCO.  If you haven't done so, please give us your feedback and suggestions through our Evaluation form.

As the requests for participation exceeded the capacity of our Zoom platform, we also livestreamed the webinar on Youtube, which is now available for you and you to share with your friends and colleagues.  The webinar is also featured as news article on UNESCO's website.

I am also happy to share big news with you: two of our student from the ASPnet, one of who was a speaker of the webinar, are now being featured in a short BBC's 'Day in lockdown life' film 'Day in lockdown life' film . We thank them for having first responded to our call for the UNESCO Campaign #LeaningNeverStops. Big congratulations to you Nanda from Indonesia and Marwa from Lebanon!

The ASPnet Global Coordination team will also take into consideration several highlighted themes raised at the webinar, not only as part of the UNESCO's COVID-19 response, but also more broadly as how to facilitate your needs and initiatives! These efforts include a development of the know-how guidance tool to help organizing your own webinars and to continue discussions across your schools, communities, countries and regions.

We dedicate this issue to share with you the food for thought presented at the global webinar, including the presentations, questions and comments. While this issue contains links to these materials, please bear with us as some of the documents may need some more time for translation in all three languages, English, French and Spanish.

Last but not least, our webinar was organized in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE), whose Director, Mr. Tao Zhan, kindly sent us a message.   

We welcome your comments and ideas for our future activities.   


"The voices of teachers, students and parents made us aware of the reality on the ground and the challenges that we need to face in solidarity as the ASPnet community"

​Julie Saito, ASPnet International Coordinator and overall webinar moderator

Stay safe. Stay CONNECTed!

Julie Saito, ASPnet International Coordinator ​

Video Message by Mr Tao Zhan, Director of NESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE)​, co-organizer of theASPnet Webinar

Mr Zhan led the collaborative efforts for the webinar from IITE's side and delivered the closing remarks.

"It is the shared responsibility of all of us, working together to be prepared for this new age"

Video message  >>>>>   Full text​  

All about  the ASPnet Global Webinar
May 12, 2020, 2-3.45pm Paris time - 620 people from 80 Countries​

UNESCO ASPnet brought together all its members – National Coordinators, teachers, students and their parents – to come together as a global community, to share and explore observations, feelings and initial lessons learned on two main themes:
  • ​Experience of remote learning, 
  • Reimagining the future of education.

ASPnet community members joint from all over the world, with over 620 participants from 80 countries, covering all five global regions, including teachers and students, from all levels of education, as well as many others.​

Participants by region.PNG 
Participants by Role.PNG
​For regional participation: 

40 percent of participants were from the Europe and North America region, 21 per cent from Latin America and the Carribean, the Arab region constituted 19 percent, while 12 per cent of participants belonged to the Asia Pacific region, and 9 per cent to the Africa region.

In terms of category of participants,  teachers respresented 62 per cent (65 per cent including principals), 17 per cent were National Coordinators, with 8 per cent students. Parents comprised almost 2 per cent​.

Levels of Education were represented as follows:
  • 32%  from primary and secondary schools,
  • 19 % from pre-primary to secondary level,
  • 16%  from Teacher Training Institutions,
  • 11%  from primary schools and non-formal education centres,
  • 7% from vocational and technical institutions, and
  • 4% from pre-primary schools.
Participants-level of eduction.PNG​​

Ms Vi beke Jensen, Director of the Division of Peace and Sustainable Development in the Education Sector, UNESCO captured the essence of the two main topics in her opening remarks:​


I strongly believe that we have to seize the momentum of this current crisis to "build back better" and to collectively strive and work towards a more peaceful and sustainable world.

Vibeke Jensen, Director, Division of Peace and Sustainable Development, Education Sector, UNESCO

See the full opening remarks here

Theme 1: Experiences of teaching and learning during lockdown

This session focussed on sharing observations, feelings and lessons learned in regards to how teaching and learning has been kept up during lockdown and how it worked (or not) for students, teachers and parents from different contexts and countries. The questions for discussion were:

  1. How effective has the experience of remote learning been? What technologies did you use? What opportunities and challenges did you experience?
  2. How has remote learning shaped and possibly changed the learning community and relationships between students – teachers – parents?   ​

Theme 2: Going back to school, reimagining the future of education

The second session focussed on sharing observations, feelings and lessons learned in regards to moving from confinement to de-confinement, to the new "normal", and how we reimagine the futures of education. The question for discussion was: How do we reimagine the organization of our schools and learning environments following this crisis?

>>>> ​Presentations of the Speakers from the ASPnet community​ ​

Experts' Interventions

Experts at the meeting included Tigran Yepoyan, Chief of the unit on ICT in health Education at IITE, Sobhi Tawil, Chief of Education Research and Foresight at UNESCO and Xioxia Zhou, the Director of the International Centre for UNESCO ASPnet. Commenting on the sessions, they identified common themes, including the importance of addressing the socio-emotional dimension of learning, the impact of remote learning changing relationships between students, teacher and parents, as well as the importance of ensuring students' and teachers' well-being. Prominent attention was also given to the role of arts education for the well-being of students, the need to equip teachers with skills, both in IT and media literacy, as well as psycho-social support to students.

Here are the experts commenting on the topics discussed

"School is not just a building, but a learning community. Human interaction and connection, cooperation, open and timely communication between decision makers, schools, parents and students are the key enablers for overcoming the current crisis and rethinking what education is about and how it can be better organized in future."

Tigran Yepoyan, IITE


"We need serious efforts to prevent a development in which ICT education will exacerbate divides and inequalities. Following the digital revolution, the future world of global interconnections will reflect increasingly intercultural and across-national communications and interactions."

Xiaoxia Zhou, Director, International Center for UNESCO ASPnet, China 


"The future is a perspective to inform our action in the present for more inclusive and meaningful learning for all. It is not what about what the anticipated future will impose. Rather, it is about our collective effort to forge the alternative future we want. "  

Mr Sobhi Tawil, Chief, Education Research and Foresight, UNESCO

​​​ ​>>>>​​​​ ​key messages  by the experts​​

Messages and Comments from the Audience
"Despite challenges opportunities in coping with school at home and distance learning, our biggest investment we bring to our ASPnet community is to stay connected and provide a virtual place to discuss, share and learn."  

Fouzia Belhami, ASPnet team, chat moderator

Assistance provided by Kangni Chen, Helene Darne, Erik Eschweiler, Alba Moral Foster and Natalia Tolochko

Comments received:
  • "it was amazing to hear children from the other side of the world and to feel like my classmates",  (student)
  •  "meeting people from so many different parts of the world sharing  their experiences and views was impressive and touching",
  • "for me is very important that when discussing the futures of education it was  made clear that the situation we are experiencing opens up alternative forms of education, where digital literacy dominates but building strong relationships between teachers, students and parents is paramount as well as the  provision of emotional and social support in a context of global solidarity "
  • "I was so glad to hear that we share the same thoughts about the role of teachers which is irreplaceable". ​

Kenya - My appreciation for the wonderful webinar this afternoon. Great insights on the future of education and the role of digital learning were shared. I noted with satisfaction that the teacher is an irreplaceable component in the learning process! Hope to have more such fora.
Teacher from Kenya
Brazil - It is a time of great learning for educators. Today, one of the most important actions of the network's schools is the exchange of experiences. As there is no ideal model of action, the ideas and solutions of each school on the side of the world can help a lot to another. As Brazil is a very large country with many differences, this exchange is what we are promoting with schools here."
Luiz Cruz, ASPnet and Teacher Training
United Arab Emirates - There were various posts around the world by teachers, supervisors, students and parents around the world where our knowledge enriched some points and our dear students touched the content of this forum.... Thank you very much
Jumana Hanoun, ASPnet Coordinator, UAE
Hungary - I particularly liked the issues of the transformation of curriculum in teacher training institutions, the strengthening of arts education, the importance of socio-emotional learning and digital literacy, and, more broadly, the need for human interaction and cooperation of stakeholders in education.
Dr. Gábor SOÓS, Secretary-General, Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO

​Mongolia - I would like to express my profound appreciation for ogranizing the first Global Webinar. It provided a great opportunity for the participants to not only share th​eir good practices and experiences with online and remote learning, but also to deliberate on how we can collectively more towards a more inclusive and sustainable future based on our experiences with this unprecendented crisis. 
National Coordinator for ASPnet

>>>> ​More comments can be found here

Meet ASPnet team member: Melanie Seto

"Your voices, experiences, and personal contributions made the webinar a true community meeting! The current crisis is an immense opportunity to make changes for education, some of which are long overdue to emerge with a clear vision on the kind of learning we want."

>>> video message and text

​We encourage you to send us your messages of solidarity in words, pictures, videos and art works.  

Your experiences and innovative ways to learn, out of schools and within your families, can contribute to build and strengthen our network.

Please send to aspnetinaction@unesco.org and attach the consent form.

The ASPnet Team

Julie Saito, Fouzia Belhami, Melanie Seto, Katja Anger, Simon Wanda,
Helene Darne, Kangni Chen, Erik Eschweiler, Alba Moral Foster

Get connected: https://aspnet.unesco.org                                 Contact us: aspnetinaction@unesco.org