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How Germany Avoided A 'Lost' Year Of Schooling – NPR

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FromSt. Louis Public Radio
In the U.S., school closures during the pandemic have some worried about a “lost COVID generation” of children. But that’s not the case in Germany.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
According to UNICEF, the world’s children lost an average of 47 school days between March and October. It’s one reason the organization is warning of a lost COVID generation of children. American schools are scrambling to address this, and they might look to Germany, where schools got kids back into classrooms early. In partnership with the Pulitzer Center, St. Louis Public Radio’s Ryan Delaney reports.
RYAN DELANEY, BYLINE: The children and teachers at Rainbowtrekkers kindergarten in Cologne start the school day with a rhyme.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Speaking German).
DELANEY: “Every day is new, and every day is different,” the children sing. But one thing that’s changed little for them this year – their daily presence in a classroom. Germany’s quick response to the pandemic in the spring allowed it to get some children back in schools after just a few weeks. And schools have remained open this fall, even as the country shut restaurants and gyms back down. Meanwhile, in some American cities, schools were shut down or remained closed, while gyms and restaurants stayed open. Jason Benedict, an American raising a family in Berlin, says he doesn’t feel like the school year has been disrupted the way his friends back in the U.S. talk about it.
JASON BENEDICT: It doesn’t seem like the kids are being left behind, and it doesn’t feel so much – as far as scholastics, it doesn’t feel like a lost year. And I’m very thankful for that.
DELANEY: Most German schoolchildren are required to wear masks during the day and not mix with kids outside their cohort. And when community spread gets too high, schools do shut down for a period of time. Iljana Lott, the director of a Berlin primary school, says she’s glad the government has prioritized keeping schools open.
ILJANA LOTT: (Speaking German).
DELANEY: She says the social aspects of schooling are too important.
Liana Schmidtke is in her final year of high school in the city of Osnabruck.
LIANA SCHMIDTKE: I couldn’t imagine being still in home schooling.
DELANEY: She remembers her school’s spring closure as a very dark time. If schools were still closed, she says…
SCHMIDTKE: Everything would’ve been so much differently now. Our grades would’ve probably dropped, and our whole motivation to actually continue studying for graduation would’ve been completely miserable.
DELANEY: Back in the spring, when German schools did shut down, researchers found that students spent less time studying and more time on their phones, playing computer games or watching TV. Alex Bucher, a principal of a secondary school in Bruhl, says the closures set his students back.
ALEX BUCHER: If you don’t learn as much as you could learn, you are behind. That’s a fact.
DELANEY: Online learning was also a challenge, in part because of a lack of digital infrastructure in German schools. Katharina Spiess (ph) studies education and economics at the Free University of Berlin. She says school disruptions in Germany have been more harmful to some students.
KATHARINA SPIESS: Children, students which are any way disadvantaged from lower-educated households, from lower-income households, students with lower grades – they will suffer much more.
DELANEY: That’s the case in the United States as well. About 3 million children have disappeared from American schools since March, according to a study by Bellwether Education Partners. Those children are more likely to live in low-income households or be English-language learners. By keeping schools open, Germany has kept many vulnerable students from falling through the cracks, but this winter will test the country’s success. Many teachers are nervous about higher case numbers. They’re calling for a switch to a hybrid teaching model that would keep classrooms half-full. But the government is pushing to keep schools fully open.
For NPR News, I’m Ryan Delaney in Berlin.
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Business

The Rise of Online Businesses: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

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In a world increasingly connected through the internet, the possibilities for starting and growing online businesses have expanded exponentially. Whether you’re looking to escape the traditional nine-to-five grind, want to tap into a global market, or are simply passionate about a niche interest, launching an online business is a promising venture. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key steps to success in the dynamic world of online entrepreneurship.

1. Choose Your Niche

The first crucial step in starting an online business is selecting the right niche. Identify your passions, expertise, and market demand. Research the competition and look for gaps that your business can fill. A well-defined niche will help you target the right audience and stand out in the crowded online marketplace.

2. Develop a Business Plan

Just like traditional businesses, online ventures require a solid business plan. Your plan should outline your business goals, strategies, financial projections, and marketing tactics. It’s a roadmap that will keep you focused and serve as a valuable reference point as your business grows.

3. Legal Structure and Registration

Choose a legal structure for your online business, such as a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation. Register your business with the necessary authorities and obtain any required licenses or permits. This step is vital to ensure your business operates legally and efficiently.

4. Website Development

Your website is the heart of your online business. Create a professional, user-friendly website that reflects your brand and offers a seamless customer experience browse around this site. Ensure your site is mobile-responsive and optimized for search engines (SEO) to maximize your online visibility.

5. Branding and Identity

Build a strong brand identity that differentiates your online business. This includes designing a captivating logo, crafting a unique value proposition, and maintaining a consistent visual style and tone across all your online platforms.

6. E-Commerce and Payment Solutions

If your online business involves selling products or services, choose a reliable e-commerce platform and payment gateway. Offer various payment options to cater to your customers’ preferences and ensure secure transactions.

7. Content Creation

High-quality content is key to attracting and engaging your target audience. Develop a content strategy that includes blog posts, videos, and other relevant content that provides value to your audience. Consistent and relevant content can drive traffic and establish your authority in your niche.

8. Digital Marketing

Promote your online business through various digital marketing channels. These may include social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and search engine optimization. Tailor your marketing efforts to reach your specific target audience.

9. Customer Service

Deliver excellent customer service to build trust and loyalty. Respond promptly to inquiries, resolve issues, and seek feedback to continually improve your products or services. Happy customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and refer others.

10. Data Analysis and Adaptation

Regularly monitor your online business’s performance through analytics tools. Analyze the data to make informed decisions and adapt your strategies accordingly. The online landscape evolves quickly, so staying agile and open to change is essential.

11. Legal and Tax Compliance

Stay informed about legal and tax obligations relevant to your online business. Compliance is vital to avoid legal issues and financial penalties. Consider consulting with a professional accountant or attorney to navigate the complexities of online business regulations and taxation.

12. Scale and Diversify

Once your online business is thriving, explore opportunities for growth. This might involve expanding your product or service range, reaching new markets, or diversifying your income streams. Continual innovation is key to long-term success.

In conclusion, the world of online businesses offers endless possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs. By following these essential steps, you can increase your chances of creating a successful online venture. Remember that persistence, adaptability, and a commitment to providing value to your audience are fundamental qualities of a thriving online business owner.

The internet has revolutionized the way we do business. If you have a unique idea, a passion, or a solution to a problem, there’s never been a better time to start your online business. So, why wait? Take the plunge and embark on your journey to online business success today.

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