“The children talk to him, laugh with him and sometimes even chitchat with him during the lesson. Joshi can do that quite well, too,” Ute Winterberg, headmistress at the Pusteblume-Grundschule in Berlin, told Reuters in an interview.
Joshua cannot attend classes because he wears a tube in his neck due to a severe lung disease, said his mother, Simone Martinangeli.
The project is a private initiative paid for by the local council in the Berlin district Marzahn-Hellersdorf.
“We are the only district in Berlin that has bought four avatars for its schools. The impetus was COVID-19, but I think this will be the future well beyond the pandemic,” said district education councillor Torsten Kuehne.
“It does happen from time to time, for various reasons, that a child cannot go to class in person. Then, the avatar can give that child a chance to remain part of the school community,” Kuehne said.
He added that he had already brought up the project in political discussions at a state level.
“I like it either way because I like the avatar,” said student Noah Kuessner when asked if he is looking forward to seeing Joshua again.
“And I would like it better if Joshi could really come to school,” said another classmate, Beritan Aslanglu.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
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