As the coronavirus Pandemic scars the normal routine of humans around the world, it has become essential for world leaders to attend to the educational needs of the children around the world during this crisis. According to the World Economic Forum more than a billion students worldwide are not able to go to school or a university because of the public health crisis. To be more precise the latest figures by UNESCO reveal that around 1.3 billion learners around the world were not able to go to school or college in March 2020.
The COVID-19 lockdown has a major impact on the economy of the world. It has similarly impacted global world education. Most of the countries around the world have gone under a full lockdown or a partial lockdown as a preventive measure against the fight of COVID-19. 138 governments according to the World Economic Forum have closed down their schools and universities to protect the virus from spreading. While the lockdown in place, 91 percent of the students are being kept from going to school according to UNESCO.
The global education system has changed in the matter of a few weeks. We saw a drastic change in the education system that has been the same for years. The traditional classroom with a teacher feeding information to the students and students listening is disrupted by the COVID-19. We witnessed a shift from the traditional classroom towards a more digital way of learning.
With the vaccine at least 6 months away according to OECD, schools will probably remain close to help to contain the virus. This forced change in the educational system gives a glimpse of how the education system might change in the future because of the COVID-19 Lockdown.
Firstly, one of the changes that we might witness in the education system is the chance of innovations in the education system. As the famous proverb goes, an invention is the mother of necessity, the situation COVID-19 has put us in might lead to remarkable innovations that will lead the education system to new levels.
The Pandemic has already forced many schools to come up with innovative ideas to reach their students. While these innovative ideas might not include high tech, they definitely are new and attend to the needs of the students. According to China’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China has launched a national cloud learning platform and started to conduct classes on public tv where any student can access the lectures without worrying about fast speed internet. Pakistan following the footsteps of China also plans to launch an initiative called the "Teleschool” that will be broadcasting educational content for grades 1-12 according to the Ministry of Education, Pakistan.
The second change COVID-19 lockdown might bring is the widening gap between the rich and the poor to access education will increase. While broadcasting educational might be a short term solution for attending to the needs of the students, it will be stopped eventually. COVID-19 might push us towards more distance learning but that will require access to quality speed internet.
According to Darrell M. West, around 4.2 billion people do not have access to the internet around the world. 58 percent of the world lacks Internet access and individuals who lack the facility are not able to make any social, economic, and civic gains that arise from digital connectivity. With learning shifting towards distant learning, the internet will be the most important component but will leave out the students that cannot afford the internet. According to an article by Internet Society, many rural areas in developing nations still lack broadband connections or to be more precise in European countries there is an estimate over thirty fixed broadband subscriptions for every hundred people while less than one hundred in sub-Saharan Africa. Schools lacking internet facilities will lag behind in education further while schools with internet connectivity will advance more and more.
While the change in the education system is evident and will push for innovation in education or widen the gap between school children, governments must act promptly to make sure that students are not suffering because of the lockdown. Governments should define principles to ensure the protection of the health of students and staff and ensure academic learning. It should provide emotional support to the students and faculty members. This will help students and faculty to focus on learning and take initiatives.
The governments should give sufficient support to the students and families who are most vulnerable during this crisis. The governments should provide alternative education plans for these students which might be through radios and tv telecasts as mentioned above.
The governments should make sure to enhance communication and collaboration among students to encourage mutual learning and wellbeing with the assistance of their Education Ministries.
Finally, governments should develop a mechanism to help teachers and parents with their professional development so they are ready to support and facilitate the students properly.
In conclusion, as the global education system is shaken by the COVID-19, it will change the education system for good and for worst but in both cases, it is essential for everyone and especially the government to take adequate actions to prevent students from suffering who are vulnerable in this crisis and help build a support system for students, parents, and teachers.