Writes Zeus, Content writer, Headline Diplomat eMagazine
Covid-19 has affected the health, trade, employment, and education systems equally. Besides, the pandemic also affected both public and private entities around the world. However, one of the sectors that are feeling the aftermath of Coronavirus is the education system and children in general.
The pandemic made schools close abruptly, and the effect of this decision is experienced at the moment. Not only did this sudden closure mean there would be disruption to education, but kids who depend on the schools for meals and guidance were affected as well. As a result, the pandemic has born witness to the problems that many educational systems were facing and have to deal with going forward. One of the main problems is inequality.
You would think that high-income countries like the UK or Germany wouldn’t be affected by this pandemic as they have more access to resources, but you’re wrong. Even though the impact of Covid-19 was felt worse in middle-income countries like Ukraine or Romania, all countries in Europe and the entire world felt the impact.
When the pandemic was at its peak, 45 countries in the Europe and Central Asia region closed their schools, directly affecting over 185 million students. Since teachers, administrators, and parents weren’t ready for the pandemic, most governments had to come up with other ways through which kids would learn as social distancing was the norm by then.
Many governments started supporting remote learning, even though this was a challenge in low-income countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Regardless of the measures put forward to help kids learn, most countries didn’t have the infrastructure and technology to do so. As a result, all countries; high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries experienced loss in learning and inequality.
But due to inequality, some kids were able to learn while others were left behind and are doing catchup. Loss in education has been recorded to be much higher among students whose parents have less education. Also, kids from high-income families were able to access resources required for remote learning, while those from low-income households couldn’t even afford meals, with some going hungry.
How are governments around the world working to recover the educational loss?
Many governments around the world have introduced educational recovery programs. Aside from that, most governments have set aside educational funds to support the programs laid to recover the educational loss.
However, some governments like the UK are politicking about the issue, which is a danger to the UK education system and this generation’s children. Sir Kevan Collins, former UK education recovery commissioner had requested £15 billion to run programs that would try to recover the educational loss. Part of his argument was the extension of the school day by at least 30 minutes.
When the government failed to honor his request, the Commissioner resigned. Sir Kevan, said, “A half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils. The support announced by the government so far does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge and is why I have no option but to resign from my post.” Collins needed £15 billion to invest in teachers, tutoring, and extended school day. However, the government had planned to offer him £1.4 billion, which he said, “fell short.”
Regardless of the UK failing to agree on the funds for recovering educational loss, the main issue ailing the UK’s education system has been overshadowed by the school catch-up funding fiasco. The main issue ailing the UK’s education system is inequality. Kids and students from poor backgrounds didn’t only lose education but were also emotionally affected. Of course, the emotional effect for kids from high-income homes was lower than those from low-income homes.
That’s why more than ever, education opportunities should be opened up for all kids, even those from deprived or neglectful homes. During the lockdown, Coronavirus exposed the digital divide that exists in the UK. Social mobility and class differences meant that some of the less privileged and disadvantaged children didn’t have access to remote learning due to technological problems.
For instance, a report by Sutton trust revealed that 15% of teachers in less privileged schools reported that their students didn’t have access to fast internet or electronic devices. But with a whole new system, the government can bridge this gap and support not only the educational system but also save vulnerable children by running food banks.
Despite countries like the UK still figuring out what to do to regain the loss of education and cater for deprived kids, Ukraine is already up with its programs. Ukraine has already set up steps to protect the increase in education spending in 2021 by increasing transfers to local governments for teaching aids and equipment. On top of that, they are offering more support and social protection to teachers and academic staff via salary increases.
Even as many governments around the world are working to recover from the loss in education, it is crucial to tackling the issue the education system is facing, so that the same challenges experienced don’t happen again. Governments should work to bridge the inequality gap and support vulnerable families.
Apart from improving technology in communities, governments around the world should also create food banks to ensure that deprived kids are not starving and remain healthy, with a sound mind. This will help them focus and be on the same page with kids from high-income families.