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On air schooling

Philip Stevens finds out how one public service broadcaster is educating children

With the closure of schools in Croatia due to the Covid-19 pandemic, public broadcaster HRT (Hrvatska Radiotelevizija) has stepped in to provide a variety of lessons through a project called School on the Third. Transmitting on its third channel (HRT 3), the service, which started last Monday, has been seen by approximately 100,000 children daily tuning in, according to the most recent figures. 

“There are currently six teachers, and some others in reserve for future assignments,” explains Rahela Štefanović, the programme project manager for School on the Third. “The subjects covered include Croatian and foreign languages – mostly English, mathematics, music, arts, nature. They are designed for the first four grades of elementary schools here in Croatia. For each grade, there is a two-hour programme per day, starting from 8am.”

Štefanović says the programmes are being broadcast from a newly designed HRT studio in Zagreb. “We use three cameras, which are controlled from an outside broadcast van parked near the facility.”

To illustrate the points covered by the teachers, a combination of graphics and a live whiteboard are being used.

But the communication is not just one way, students can submit questions for their teacher via email or social media. “We have had 300 questions in the first four days,” reports Štefanović. 

She goes on to explain that the broadcasts enable students to prepare for tests and examinations. “Feedback is very positive, and we are getting numerous encouraging reactions about our role during this crisis. Depending on how long the situation continues, we may well expand this educational service. We know that it works well.”

The whole education project is being over seen by HRT general manager Kazimir Bačić. He says, “Not only do we see these schools’ programmes as vital, but also HRT is the main press pool for information about the coronavirus crisis. In addition, our fourth channel, HRT 4, has been reporting around the clock, providing all the news to the general public. This is, after all, the role of a public service broadcaster – to serve the public.”