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How to adapt: lessons from the sanitary crisis

Like many projects, ELAN was affected by the health crisis that began in March 2020 and made it difficult to carry out physical mobility: closed borders, canceled flights, instructions to work from home, expansion of distance learning, etc. Despite these hurdles, the ELAN project was able to adapt and continue to encourage and promote mobility within the cooperation area.

Some adaptation measures for the past year

May 2020: the students of the 2019-2020 class of the immersion program present in Martinique at the start of the crisis were able to continue their intensive online reinforcement in French (FLE) and for the most part, to complete the internships provided for in the program. These internships took place virtually and gave rise to positive feedback from the students and their host organizations.

June 2020: the ELAN project steering committee met in a hybrid format, between face-to-face and videoconferencing.

September 2020: students from the cooperation area and registered at the University of the Antilles were able to start their long-term study programme thanks to the support of the University of the Antilles, the Consulate of Saint Lucia in Martinique and the French Embassies in Saint Lucia and Haiti.

There are now 31 students, from Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, present on our campuses and who – thanks to a mobility grant and travel assistance – benefit from the opportunity to further their studies at the Université des Antilles.

The ELAN project team also accompanies them upon their arrival, by welcoming and assisting in particular with matters of housing, or administrative formalities. In addition to the CLOUS, the vast majority of students opting in Martinique for accommodation on the Campus, we also count the CLLAJ among our partners.

If “incoming” long-term study mobility towards the French Antilles is experiencing strong development despite the health crisis, it should be noted that “outgoing” mobility has been drastically reduced. This situation can be explained by the immediate switchover of the English-speaking campuses for 100% distance learning courses, but also by a certain reluctance on the part of young people and families to consider travel in an uncertain and, it is true, complicated context.

December 2020: the 1st 100% virtual student fair was organized by ELAN. This fair which, before the health crisis, had already been thought of as a virtual highlight in addition to a physical event, was a real success and the renewal of this operation for 2021 is already under discussion.

January 2021: The 2020-2021 promotion of the immersion program, strongly supported by our partner, the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States), is also undergoing adaptation measures to ensure the continuity of the program. Faced with the continuing difficulties of physical mobility, the second phase of the program, which provides for FLE courses provided by the ICEFI (Caribbean Institute for Francophone and International Studies, Department of FLE of the University of the Antilles), will finally be delivered online.

Students will therefore be able to continue improving their language skills, up to level B2 and will be able to begin their physical immersion in August 2021 in order, on one hand to take their French certification test and on the other hand to prepare for their entry into the long-term study course in September 2021, as a part of a general service coordinated by the CISM (Centre International de Séjour de la Martinique).

As a reminder, the first phase of the Immersion program was implemented by the network of Alliances Françaises in the English-speaking Caribbean and, from September to December, takes the students to a first level of skills development in French while remaining in their respective countries. These modules were delivered online, with all Alliances opting for closure, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

What about 2021? 

ELAN will continue to adapt its actions to the constraints of the sanitary situation. It is in this sense that the teams of the ELAN project and its partner, the CLLAJ Martinique met in January 2021 in order to continue monitoring and start preparing the reception and support of incoming mobility students for the academic year 2021-2022.

A meeting is also planned with the management of the CLOUS, with the same objective. Convinced that the exchange and support mechanisms for mobility are a source of skills acquisition and fulfillment, the ELAN project team is pursuing its action plan aimed at the public of vocational training, apprentices and young people in “professional construction”.

The current period is not conducive to travel, but the team has made a proactive decision to use this time to encourage and initiate the creation of ties betweens schools, to emphasize the preparation for mobility of the potential beneficiaries of the ELAN systems and finally to strengthen “digital tools” facilitating our exchanges and educational cooperation within the region (support from the Université des Antilles for the development of online modules on knowledge of the Caribbean Area; construction by the ELAN project team of a regional internship bank accessible on the ELAN site: (link address) and development of a secure platform for exchanges between partner classes and teaching teams).

ELAN partners are also already mobilized for the preparation of the next student fair to be held in 2021 and will ensure that institutions in the region can meet visitors and help make their mobility projects a reality.