While the novel coronavirus has brought the entire world to a standstill, it’s the education sector that will suffer the most consequences. Almost all across the globe, the closure of schools, and universities, has darkened the clouds over the future of many young and adult students.
But if schools and colleges are allowed to open, the pandemic may continue for years to come. Besides, there are little to no preventative procedures in place to avoid this eventuality. Moreover, we are not even sure if fever detection will suffice, or if more is required to ensure the well being of children.
So, let’s dive into how the COVID pandemic has brought about an educational crisis.
Implications of COVID-19 for K-12
Many of the K-12 students educated from 2020 to 2021 will be missing up to 2 years of foundational academic skills. A lot of these babies will be 8-10 years old before they start to read picture books—what a sobering epiphany.
As per UNESCO, 1.6 billion children in 191 countries have been impacted by COVID-19. Though the closures are in the interest of safeguarding children’s health, it is also a reality that not every kid can learn via remote learning.
Besides this, there are K-12 kids from across various societal strata who are now deprived of nutritional school meals, which are otherwise unaffordable for them. And while there is a need to ensure connectivity, extra attention, and support for their parents, the task is easier said than done.
In the U.S., many schools are starting to reopen, either with an on-time or delayed start to the 2020-2021 school year. Some have decided to go back to all face to face courses, some have embraced a blended approach, and others have decided to start the school year with fully online courses. No matter how they start, most of their students will end up getting left behind.
For the college level students
College students are also negatively impacted by the pandemic. While their classes were shifted online, many were forced to go back home, with little to no internet connectivity. Some had no home to go to.
This fall, many of these students are gearing to go back to college, and just like K-12 schools, Some have decided to go back to all face to face courses, some have embraced a blended approach, and others have decided to start the school year with fully online courses. No matter how they start, most of their students will end up matriculating and then graduating without the skills that they need to succeed in their chosen profession.
Tapping into the power and promise of digital resources
However, hopefully, taken, this could mean that – now is the time to turn challenges into opportunities!
Though governmental and non-governmental bodies will have to strive hard to provide technological access, it may change the education paradigm. Before there was COVID-19, there were still millions of kids, who are deprived of formal education. Yet, the current pandemic has opened a pandora’s box where and shined a spotlight on these “savage inequities.” Many cash strapped schools have been turning to free digital and OER (Open Education Resources) to provide the curriculum and resources that they need to educate their students.
It’s not just the kids but also the teachers who need better training and access to quality materials. But while teachers must be encouraged via incentives, societal honors, and more, they must be selected through a thorough proper vetting process. And they must also be encouraged to continue learning via professional development.
With digital resources and online classes, we can tap into the power and promise of the internet. Who knows, remote learning may also turn out to be a novel medium to strengthen student-teacher interaction.
We have established that the pandemic is creating a global education crisis. The question is, how do we respond to it in a way that will produce positive student outcomes?