How to Support Learning for All during COVID-19 Crisis?
Published on: 28.08.2020
In a former normal day, before the coronavirus outbreak, over one billion of children all over the world would head to school. However, despite attending classes, for many of them, schooling did not equal learning. Even before the pandemic wreaked havoc worldwide on the educational system, there was a global learning crisis. Teacher gaps, crowded classes, lack of qualified and trained teachers, outdated curricula, lack of learning materials have been ongoing challenges in many countries. On the other hand, poverty was and still is a major barrier to proper learning for millions of children. Kids born and raised in poverty face various disadvantages especially in terms of education and learning. Those children that arrived at school tired, hungry, and sick couldn’t concentrate or remember information.
Consequently more than half of the children in education were unable to reach minimum proficiency. More specifically, data from UNICEF confirmed that an estimated six in every ten children and adolescents globally didn’t achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
As a result, worldwide, there were more non-learners in school than out of school.
Then, the COVID-19 threatened to deepen the global learning crisis while hampering the progress made towards achieving quality education (SDG4) and exposing huge inequalities in education.
Marginalized groups, children living in poverty or conflictual areas, girls, refugees, migrant children, kids, and youth with special needs were already facing barriers to access a proper education. Educational systems are disrupted every year in various countries due to climate change, natural disasters, or wars. The pandemic added a new barrier to school attendance in those countries.
Moreover, the pandemic also threatens the progress made towards gender equality, SDG 5.
According to UNESCO, 130 million girls were out of school before the pandemic. Now, over 11 million girls face the risk of never returning back to school. Not only this, but they can also be exposed to abuse, family violence, child labor, early marriage, and trafficking. In order to ensure girls learning continuity, UNESCO shared a guide that can be used by policymakers involved with education, teachers, people involved in COVID-19 response, organization, youth-led programs, parents, girls, and women’s rights groups, etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic could force ways to reshape education for the better. The health crisis is pushing policymakers, teachers, learners, and parents to think critically and creatively, to cooperate and interact better.
At the same time, it is forcing people and especially the youth to use e-learning, a solution that has been in place for a long time but was not used to its full potential. Yet, online education is still not a universal solution. The digital divide is another major challenge. The education sector is facing a major wave of online learning, but the question is how to make it more inclusive for girls, underprivileged learners, and for children with special needs.
A way would be to take advantage of every type of media including radio, televisions, newspapers, and magazines and their role as educational mediums.
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