Due to the pandemic, in-person classes have been greatly reduced, which is having a negative impact on social stability, economic development, and the quality of students’ home life. However, this disruption in the current system can also be seen as a chance for us to stop and think. Couldn’t we do things differently and do them better? To find some inspiration, all it takes is to watch these specially selected films, which demonstrate the many diverse forms of education found all around the world.
Despite its name, the documentary Our Little Poland does not take place in “The Land of Fields”, but instead in Tokyo, Japan where Japanese university students are learning to speak Polish. Studying a foreign language and exploring a culture founded on vastly different principles allows them to make more meaningful connections and deeper relationships in a globalised world.
Teaching documented in the Bulgarian film Cambridge also contributes to themes of social integration. The documentary follows the daily efforts of Roma schoolchildren from the village of Dolni Tsibar. Although they live in one of the poorest places in Europe and continue to face discrimination, teachers hope that they will be able to acquire the basic knowledge and skills they need to find their place in society. Romania, which borders Bulgaria, is the setting for the observational documentary Teach, which earned Alex Brendea an award at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. The protagonist is a peculiar Transylvanian math teacher who combines explanations of math equations with his sharp criticism of the Romanian education system. He stubbornly refuses to follow the state-mandated curriculum and instead encourages students not to submit to the "tyranny of the teacher" and to think independently. Only in this way will they find out who they really are, learn to solve their own problems, and become responsible and independent.
Other films found in this curated selection, whether they take place in countries near or far, all point to the fact — with varying degrees of insight and formal invention — that healthy growth of individuals and society is not possible without quality and accessible education.
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