Telekom Endowment Fund: What did we achieve in 2020?
The pandemic emphasised the importance of online interpretation
The new coronavirus pandemic surprised us all, but it also reminded us how extremely important online interpretation is. For this reason, in March 2020, we introduced a non-stop service, which was available for a month and a half. It provided the persons who are hard of hearing with the opportunity to call a doctor without any problems, or to deal with other urgent matters related to the new situation. We also tried to provide this community with as much important information about the coronavirus as possible, using the videos we published on the websites of the Online Interpreter project and the Telekom Endowment Fund.
After more relaxed measures in summer, another call to actions came at the end of October and the beginning of November, when nationwide testing of the population of Slovakia for the presence of COVID-19 took place. Once again, we extended our services for two weeks so that this event could run smoothly even for the citizens who are hard of hearing.
Besides the pandemic, we also addressed another important issue in 2020. At the end of September, we announced a public call for the handover of the Online Interpreter project. After five years of successful operation, the time has come to gradually move this project forward and find a suitable entity to take over and develop it further.
We launched the ENTER project and supported more than 240 schools
In cooperation with Slovak Telekom and the civic associations SPy and Girls in IT, we launched an educational programme entitled ENTER which enables schools to use the latest innovations in the teaching of informatics. The programme provides schools with material assistance, practical instructions and teaching materials for pupils and their parents, and gives teachers the opportunity to gain the necessary skills and experience.
In the pilot year, we supported up to 243 primary and secondary schools through the ST Digital Generation grant programme. We redistributed 229,000 euros. The grant programme aimed to make the world of digital technologies accessible to primary school pupils and students of secondary schools in a playful, interesting and interactive way through micro:bits. These tools for teaching coding can be used not only in computer science classes but also in all other subjects because their application is very practical and variable.
Once again, we were the main partner of the Open Future programme
The Open Future educational programme has had its first year with its first 20 participants. Although the club’s activities were also affected by the pandemic and it could not be fully used, we achieved many good things:
- We created quality educational content and more than 140 educational activities for the development of digital, business and soft skills.
- We organised regular educational meetings online and offline twice a week for two groups.
- Three visits and two trips took place with the participation of interesting guests in the online programme. Our invitation was accepted, for example, by Michal Meško from Martinus, writer Daniel Hevier, astrobiologist Michaela Musilová, representatives of the social enterprise AfB and Matsuko.
- The project involved five mentors and 16 trained university students, who supported the school, the pupils and students in difficult times during distance learning.
- In September, another 30 children joined the club in the first grade of the programme.
We supported projects in the fields of digital skills, education and social innovation.
As part of the project entitled Safer Environment for Pupils and Students, organisation From Emotions to Knowledge implemented experiential teacher training, which has since contributed to the prevention and greater awareness of bullying and cyberbullying in schools. The organisation has created eight innovative storytelling tools in the field of prevention of bullying and cyberbullying: six videos with testimonies of people affected by bullying, an e-book entitled You Do Not Need to Face Bullying Alone (tr. Nebyť na šikanu sám) which contains a total of ten stories from different points of view, and a social educational game. The organisation also supplemented the innovative tools with methodologies which offer different possibilities of their use for different target groups. They also held three interactive 1.5-hour-long webinars on the same topic. Moreover, five webinar entries were added to the Online Live Library.
Excellent teachers make excellent schools. Another supported organisation entitled Resin, with its Comenius Institute project, was able to continue to create an inspiring space for the development of pedagogical leaders. Every year, the institute provides 20 teachers from all over Slovakia with top quality annual education and support to achieve changes in school communities. Besides, the organisation also cooperates with 80 teachers in the Alumni programme. The project aims to connect teachers and support their mutual learning, to develop the potential of the graduates of the institute who influence changes in education, and to inspire and motivate teachers all across Slovakia to gain further education.
Paper as any other, perhaps a little more wrinkled, but only very vaguely differentent from others with a different value or in a different currency. This is how persons with visual impairments often perceive a banknote in their hands. They can do nothing but rely on the honesty of other people to tell them the right value. Thanks to the Corvus project and the new banknote recognition application by the Touch & Speech non-profit organisation, this may no longer be the case. Furthermore, the organisation has also developed another three new applications and 45 control improvements to the already existing Corvus application set. The set is used to make touch smartphones accessible to persons with visual impairments or low vision. The organisation has also created a simple tool in the Touch & Speech app, which turns a smooth screen into more substantial so that people do not need to worry about smooth screens.
The year 2020 was challenging not only for us but also for our partner organisations which had to change their activities from day to day, adapt to the new situation, and look for creative solutions to cope with the pandemic, meet their goals and contribute to positive change in Slovakia despite the complicated situation. We are grateful that we managed to do it together. The year 2021 will probably not be any easier, but we believe that this situation has taught us many new things and strengthened us. On the threshold of the new decade, we will use this experience to further move Slovakia forward so that we can live in an inclusive, modern and educated country.