As a result of widespread school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, educators, students, and families worldwide are recognizing the essential role that schools play not only in students’ academic learning, but also in their holistic development. During the pandemic, top performers have continued to prioritize providing extracurricular activities to foster students’ holistic development—even when not able to do so in person. In Estonia, many students participate in extracurricular activities through hobby schools, a network of government-subsidized providers offering activities in sports, technology, music, and the arts. When in-person hobby school activities were suspended this spring, providers moved programming online to ensure continued access for students; hobby schools also received financial support from the government to ensure they could remain operational until after the crisis. Similarly, as part of Singapore’s phased approach to resuming in-person extracurricular programming, schools began by focusing on activities that could be offered virtually, such as dance, art, or robotics. Schools then resumed some in-person activities like sports by restructuring them to involve smaller groups of students. Looking to the future, Finland has announced significant additional funding that will allow all students to participate in an extracurricular activity for free. The government has set aside €10 million (US$11.8 million) in 2020 and €14.5 million (US$17.1 million) annually from 2021 to support this effort.
Follow NCEE’s International Education News to find out how other top-performing education systems around the world are supporting students during the coronavirus pandemic.