August 2020 – Campus di Monaco: enabling learning in times of Corona

Education is the key to the future. As a result of the Corona measures and the school closings, disadvantaged children and young people are currently falling far behind in their educational opportunities. Whole generations of students are left behind!”

Antonia Veramendi, principal

The Campus di Monaco international Montessori school is an inclusive middle school that opened in September 2019 near Munich Central Station. The pupils here learn together and from one another, regardless of whether German is their mother tongue or a second language. The school integrates a concept of cultural education at all levels of everyday school life: music, art, theater, and dance and thus promotes key skills such as creativity, independence, the joy of discovery, and the spirit of innovation.

More than half of the schoolchildren between the ages of 10 and 20 are disadvantaged in the form of migration experiences, health restrictions, or generally a high need for psychosocial support. The school offers services such as tutoring in small groups and creative offers such as wood and art workshops that help to generate a creative balance. They help to overcome trauma and stress caused by flight, war, and separation.

Due to the corona-related school closings that have been ordered in Germany since mid-March 2020, the already disadvantaged students suffered particularly. There was a lack of support and stability, the young people were isolated, suffered from the noise in the collective accommodations and the lack of opportunities to retreat. The social services were withdrawn because of the risk of infection and protective masks were lacking. The security and well-being of the young people, as well as their development opportunities, were threatened in many ways.

The Campus di Monaco team has achieved remarkable things in the last few months: the teachers kept in contact with the students via borrowed phones, sent tasks by post, or visited the young people directly in the accommodations. The conditions they found were shocking: the rooms were occupied by up to six people, cooking facilities and sanitary rooms were only available on some floors, there were no retreats and quiet learning locations without smaller siblings / roommates around. Sometimes entire families have lost their daily structure. The young people were left alone with their fears. For many of them the teachers were the only remaining contact to the outside world.

But the Corona protective measures also have dramatic consequences elsewhere: promised funds have not been received. The information events to attract new students had to be cancelled and therefore the income generated by school fees and parental loans was also lacking. In view of the uncertain situation on the financial market and the economic development, programs of individual foundations were also closed. But here, too, the Campus di Monaco team has shown fighting spirit and made great efforts. They applied for shorter working hours, negotiated with the landlord, organized online seminars instead of parents’ evenings, and promoted the school intensly  via social media.

“Thanks to all these efforts, we are currently confident and, not least thanks to the great help from Moving Child, reasonably optimistic that we will get through this difficult time.”

Brigitte Reichl, Campus di Monaco

And things are looking up: Almost all of the students have been back to face-to-face classes since May. Of course, there is still a mask requirement (outside of the well-ventilated classrooms) and thanks to hard-working seamstresses, the students got them free of charge at the school. The best news is that, despite the difficult Corona situation, the senior class started their qualifying exams. Read more about the impressive achievements of the senior class in this school year report (in German)! However, it is uncertain how the situation will progress from here and help is still needed: For example, laptops that can be loaned to the students are urgently needed. These would allow the participation of the pupils in distance learning via video conference, access to online materials, and exchange via email.

In addition to the annual support of the Campus di Monaco, Moving Child has set up a special Corona support, which particularly supports the trauma-pedagogical learning workshop (for children: 10-15 years) and the special learning support in the Campus di Monaco Future Workshop (for young people: 15-20 years old). In addition to psychosocial support, the focus of the Future Workshop is on aquiring school-leaving qualifications, career orientation, and job application writing support. The Future Workshop was recently recognized by the Ministry of Education as a vocational training facility. This means that from now on, full-time students who are required to attend vocational school can also be prepared for the secondary school certificate. In addition, in the Future Workshop, former students will continue to be accompanied and supported even after graduation.

The last few months have been difficult for all of us, but the Campus di Monaco team continued to work tirelessly during the time the school was closed and with a lot of personal commitment made it through this time well. We are impressed and look forward to the developments over the next few years!

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