The global education calendar for the year 2020 has suffered unprecedented disruption due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant measures recommended by WHO to contain its spread.
According to data released by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, school and college closure in several countries has affected over 1.1 billion students worldwide. This constitutes nearly 67% of enrolled learners in 144 countries that enforced total closure besides those that resorted to localized measures affecting all levels of learning from pre-primary to tertiary.
State of education worldwide
Asia was the first continent to suffer the effects of COVID-19 with China implementing the initial lockdown measures. This affected over 290 million students due to the stay at home recommendation and institutions opted for online tuition setting off a pattern that was to be replicated across the world.
Italy was the next to go the same way, shutting down all learning institutions and sending home over 10 million students. This generated concern across the EU countries that moved to close borders and shut down schools leaving over 100 million more students dependent on virtual learning.
The United States of America has particularly suffered heavily from the Coronavirus scourge with high numbers of infections and fatalities. This naturally meant that over 75 million students had to stay at home with recourse to eLearning.
Across the border in Canada and indeed all over the world, the situation is not different from education systems thrown into a spin. This pandemic has thrown at the world a “new normal” that calls for a radical paradigm shift to manage education systems long after it is contained.
Learning during the Coronavirus pandemic
It is imperative that learning is sustained during this period by whatever methods necessary for posterity. To sustain some level of continuity, schools and colleges that had the resources launched remote learning online to keep programs running.
However, learners in developing countries with little or no Internet access can only wait for the reopening of schools to start from where they left off.
Badly affected will be international students who will have to grapple with travel restrictions even after the reopening of schools and colleges. Writing service for US students by EduBirdie has come to the rescue of students who lagged in writing assignments or were not in a good state of mind. The need of the hour is to have more such online resources.
The challenge of reopening schools and colleges
Regardless of the innovations that education authorities might have instituted during the closure, governments must plan for a different reality upon opening, according to David Steiner, Executive Director at John Hopkins Institute for Education Policy.
The critical question is how maintaining health while studying for learners can be sustained once the systems are reopened. Continued school closures infringe on the children’s right to education and create inequalities, especially for those marginalized due to multiple reasons.
According to UNESCO, most world governments have not put in place programs for the reopening of learning institutions with just a handful planning for partial opening. At the same time, a few more intend to conclude the academic year online. With this difficulty in mind, UNESCO developed the Framework for reopening schools as a guideline for this important process.
Sustaining health and welfare of learners post-coronavirus.
The education system and the overall social fabric across the world will continue to feel the impact of coronavirus long into the future. Health and hygiene standards in public will have to undergo radical change and especially in primary education, where learners are vulnerable.
Measures to mitigate anxiety and stigma in the learning centers will be necessary to create a conducive environment for students. As per Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, the children’s health and well-being is paramount in the quest for reopening.
Financial implications on education systems
The coronavirus pandemic has created a huge fiscal crisis due to slowed economic activities globally. The new health measures required of the public, including the education sector, means extra resources are needed.
This is the headache facing the Global Education Steering Committee. There is a need to safeguard education in the face of the pandemic by mobilizing resources and this is laying a heavy burden on both developed and developing countries.
Education is the single most important resource in sustaining humanity in all spheres of social, economic, scientific, and judicial development. Though the impact of coronavirus on the world’s education systems is immense, everything must be done to sustain learning. The UN agencies and world governments must work together for a lasting solution.
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