“Adult Education vs. COVID-19” – Contest Marathon in Uzbekistan

The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe implications for adult learning and education, in common with many other sectors. DVV International has put a considerable effort into supporting adult education providers and learners in its country and regional offices. In Uzbekistan, DVV International organised a distance marathon contest entitled “Adult Education vs. COVID-19”. The main goal of the marathon has been to increase the motivation of adult education providers, representatives of civil society and individual artists in anti-crisis efforts, and to support their ideas aimed at mitigating the negative impact of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe implications for adult learning and education, in common with many other sectors. DVV International has put a considerable effort into supporting adult education providers and learners in its country and regional offices. In Uzbekistan, DVV International organised a distance marathon contest entitled “Adult Education vs. COVID-19”. This took place from 16 May to 26 August, and was promoted via its Facebook page. The main goal of the marathon has been to increase the motivation of adult education providers, representatives of civil society and individual artists in anti-crisis efforts, and to support their ideas aimed at mitigating the negative impact of the pandemic.

First stages: poster and slogan contest

The marathon consisted of several stages for the following components: poster contest, slogan contest, search for best short video, and fair of project proposals. The poster which was chosen as the winner (its author is Ismail Umarov, a Tashkent-based student) depicts the planet with the DVV International logo on it and is surrounded by a computer network symbolising distance learning, adult education and communication, as well as the opportunity and necessity to support each other and to maintain social connections in difficult times. This poster became a symbol of the marathon during the other stages of the contest.

The slogan contest developed in an interesting way, with participants being very active and sending in their slogans in several languages (Uzbek, Russian, English and German). Many of the slogans reflected not only the fight against coronavirus, but also the desire for victory over it. The contest was won by Sardor Gaziyev, a coach on educational programmes, who submitted the slogan “Adult Education - a chance for a second breath”. Several slogans competed with the winner, for instance: “Put a mask on your face, but keep your mind open”, “A lesson a day keeps the virus away” (Irina Kononova), “Erfolg hat drei Buchstaben: TUN” (Jakhongir Eshnazarov). The best posters and slogans will become the basis for desktop calendars containing quotes on adult education which will be published by DVV International Uzbekistan at the end of the year.

Video contest on adult education in the new environment

The “marathon run” culminated in the video reel contest. For one whole month, the video clips submitted by the contest participants were published on DVV International Uzbekistan’s Facebook page. They reflected different aspects of adult education during the pandemic: improving functional literacy among the elderly population, non-formal education in environmental awareness, the usage of hotlines for psychological support of the population, as well as a number of video stories relating to distance learning courses that were delivered during the quarantine period by the partner Cultural Centres in Namangan, Qarshi and Quvasay. A total of eleven video reels were submitted. The authors were organisations, initiative groups and individuals.

The jury faced a rather difficult task when it came to choosing a winner. Every product that was submitted was interesting, and reflected experiences of the usefulness and “survival” of adult education in the new environment. The members of the jury evaluated the video reels based on criteria developed in advance – “reflection of the contest theme”, “operator’s work”, “quality of editing” and “storyline”. The following videos were chosen as winners: The Initiative Group ILIM’s video “It’s never too late to learn!”; the Federation of Extreme and Mountain Tourism of Uzbekistan’s educational film on ecotourism “Want to hike!”; Guzal Karimkulova, instructor of hairdressing and make-up courses at the Cultural Centre of Quvasay, with her video “Secrets of Beauty”. The winners’ videos were translated into English after the contest.

The winning videos

Support for a project addressing “coronophobia”

The final stage of the marathon was a call for the best project idea to promote ALE, or to design ALE interventions in the context of the pandemic. The author of the winning idea is Gulnara Burkhanova, psychologist and director of the non-governmental educational institution “Kinder Stars”. She suggested the creation of a series of video lessons in Uzbek and Russian under the general title “Learning to live in a new reality”. The background to this is that many people found themselves in a difficult situation during the lockdown, leading to depression, panic, fear of the virus, lack of work, and domestic violence among other things. The medical community officially recognises “coronophobia” as a new type of mental illness. Gulnara Burkhanova’s project will lead to the production of video lessons which will be widely accessible and answer questions such as: how to learn to avoid panic and overcome anxiety, how to get along with family and friends in times of psychological stress, and how to deal with pain and grief. The lessons can be used for individual self-study, or can be watched together in classrooms, hospitals and offices.

The contest marathon identified a total of six winners. The successful entrants received various prizes (smartphone, power bank for a cellphone and memory stick, video cameras, and financial and advisory support). The most important outcomes of the marathon were however the active support of participants and fans, the general optimism of all the participants, the joyful faces of the winners, and all the interesting and creative discoveries that were made on the way. We hope that the marathon has also helped increase the numbers of supporters and allies of adult learning and education.

The winners of the contest marathon

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