How COVID-19 Changed Lives - Voices of Children

UNICEF Georgia asked children and young people around the country how they are coping with the new normal, and how their lives have been affected.

Being a school student can sometimes be challenging, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made getting an education, and life in general, even more difficult for young people in Georgia.

With schools closed, lessons are being held remotely. All sports, school activities, and events have been cancelled. Friendships and relationships have been transported to live chats and video calls.

UNICEF Georgia asked children and young people around the country how they are coping with the new normal, and how their lives have been affected.

Mate Dvalishvili, 15 years old, Kutaisi

The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed my life. When I used to go to school, by the end of the day I would be exhausted – mentally as well as physically – and as a result, I did not have trouble falling asleep. Now, I don’t get tired enough during the day, so I can’t sleep at night, and I wake up late in the morning. That’s why I am sometimes late for, or even miss, video classes.

Before, I used to wake up at 8 a.m., and by 9 a.m. I was already at school. After classes I went to a tutor, then to play sports. When I came home, I did homework and hung out with my friends, if we had free time. I went to bed sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight. Now, I get up at noon, or even as late as 1 or 2 p.m. When the weather is good, I may go out to ride my bicycle with my family members, but the rest of the time I’m at home playing online games and watching films. I go to bed at 1 or 2 a.m., and at times, I am video-chatting with my friends until 3 or 4 a.m., sometimes until morning.

The teachers are trying to teach our classes like they did in school, but still, I can’t say that online classes are as interesting as they were in person. At least now, I have a bit less homework to do. I was more active during classes while in school, there was more interaction. The programmes that we use for online classes cannot replace school. In order to make online learning effective, they should develop a special online programme that could be adapted to school teaching. At the same time, teachers should be familiar with using the programme.

For me, the hardest thing in the new reality is the new reality itself: doing nothing (for almost 2 months), and the immense lack of communication with my friends in real life. It is not unbearable, but it is very difficult.

Keta Tkhilaishvili, 10 years old, Batumi

My life has changed completely since my school was closed. Before, I spent most of the day at school with my classmates. Now, this is my free time.

When I went to school, my schedule was really full. I got up early, prepared for school, and I also had extra classes like German, chess, circle dancing, and so on.

Now my schedule is organized according to the self-isolation rules. I wake up at 10 a.m., I have breakfast, and then I have my online classes. I spend my free time as I wish, then I prepare my lessons. Sometimes I watch classes on TV. I am at home all the time. Since I have plenty of time now, I try to balance out working and free time on my own.

Interaction with my classmates in school is what I miss the most from before. When I went to school, I had more homework, but the lessons were way more engaging and interesting, I could concentrate better. Online schooling is something very new. At times, I struggle with online group studying because I don’t understand what the teacher is saying because of the Internet connection and other technical problems. But it’s interesting too. I learned how to do homework electronically and search for information on the Internet. Before, I thought that the Internet was only for playing and entertainment.

I want to go back to school soon, and before that happens, I want to be able to communicate on the Internet without interruptions.

Sandro Turabelidze, 11 years old, Village Jimastaro, Imereti

During the pandemic I had to switch to distance or online school. I don’t find learning online difficult, it is easy. Before the class is over, teachers give us an assignment, we do the homework, take a photo of the exercise book, and send it to the teacher. During the next lesson the teacher tests our knowledge. When I have free time, I play with my sister at home. I no longer visit my neighbors. I play by myself in the yard, I try to stay isolated. To spend time with my friends, I call them, we talk to each other, and play online. I go out to the yard for 5-10 minutes only, to play something by myself, like ride the bicycle, or play ball by myself, and then I go back inside as I try to avoid contact with neighbors.

Elene Iashvili, 11 years old, Kvitiri

I live in the village of Kvitiri and I go to the Kutaisi Chess school. I had great plans this year. I was so excited to participate in the Georgia, Poti, Racha, and Tkibuli chess tournaments. Traveling around the country during tournaments is so much fun. We would go to the sea to relax after the game in Poti, and we would cozy up and enjoy the fresh air in the evening in Racha. In Tkibuli, we got to go to the swimming pool. Now, I play online chess games with a computer. Online chess tournaments are held for adults only. They are very rarely held for children my age. I also play with my grandfather, but it is very difficult for a child chess player to develop during quarantine.

I was very sad at the beginning, but my friends and I found a solution together. We created a chat and communicate via that chat very often. We named the chat “girls” but later we added boys to the group as well. These relationships are very helpful.

We became tied to our computers after the schools closed. Online classes can’t replace in-school classes. At school they explain the content in more detail. And also, many of my classmates can’t attend online classes. They may have the Internet, but don’t have a personal telephone or laptop. It would be unfair if they have problems because of this.

During self-isolation, I got interested in taking photos. I go out to the yard, take photos of the flowers. Now the strawberries have ripened. I try to take joyful photos to cheer up people who are locked inside. Having a relationship with nature is one way to keep spirits up.

 

Written by
Author
Maya Kurtsikidze
Communications Officer
UNICEF
Maya Kurtsikidze
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund