Distant Learning, How to Bridge the Gap
Published on: 31.08.2020
When social distancing becomes the norm, gaps in education grow wider. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, educators, researchers, and parents would often mention the summer learning loss. The term stands for an educational phenomenon where children and teens lose some of the knowledge they acquired during the previous year. Another point researchers agreed about was that inequalities in children’s lives would impact their summer learning loss. This means that those living in lower socio-economic conditions would experience a harsher impact on their
knowledge during the time away from school. At the same, the impact would be bigger for children and students with different disabilities as they have greater needs for ongoing learning. Otherwise, progress can be lost.
Children tend to experience more knowledge loss in subjects such as mathematics. It’s common for children and students to come across books and reading materials during their summer vacation. However, it is less likely to come across some math problems unless the children are specifically looking for that type of content or books. Moreover, people living in poor or disadvantaged areas don’t have the same access to summer courses or learning programs.
Based on these facts, experts say that the level of knowledge loss during 2020 due to school closures can be higher. Al children especially disadvantaged children and those with special needs are falling behind every day they’re out of school or can’t access online education.
Innovative solutions from around the world
In this case, innovation doesn’t mean cutting edge technology. It stands for simple practical solutions that people use to address a major concern.
Here, another major gap comes to attention. The digital gap. The transition from school to online learning was abrupt and numerous countries and their educational systems were unprepared. Many have still not managed to come up with proper inclusive strategies. However, as issues vary from one country to another, so do solutions that guarantee a higher level of inclusiveness. For example, various countries where the rate of the internet is too low put school on TV. This is a good solution for millions of children in those countries that won’t re-open schools again in 2020. The TV is more useful when it comes to subjects such as mathematics as children can have visual access to what the teacher is writing on the blackboard. The radio would be more apt for subjects such as art, literature, or history.
Loudspeakers for teachers
In Indian villages, children sitting in designated social distancing spots have learned through loudspeakers. Recorded lessons were put on loudspeakers and were widely welcomed by parents and children in rural villages. Kids in such remote areas had no opportunity to get lessons since when the school closed.
On the other hand, countries like Kenya took a different approach. They canceled the academic year and will start it over again.
“The decision to scrap the academic year, taken after month-long debate, was made not just to protect teachers and students from the coronavirus, but also to address glaring issues of inequality that arose when school was suspended in March,” the NYT quoted George Magoha, the education secretary as saying.
How has education been affected in your country? Are schools going to reopen? Can you think about an inclusive solution that contributes to SDG 4 and provides access to education to those who need it most? Join the 2020 Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition.