Education after COVID-19 – Actions imperative for controlling learning disruption

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IMG-6340           Huma Arshad

The beginning of COVID-19 has brought many changes in the world. Many sectors have been affected and most of them are still struggling to survive. Among them, the education sector has been hit badly. Schools, colleges, and universities have been affected and students are still suffering. According to UNESCO 1in 5 learners cannot attend school and almost 102 countries have ordered nationwide school closure. The pandemic has adversely affected the progress few governments were making around increasing the education budget. This is a crisis that requires urgent attention globally.

In some countries, distance learning programs were launched immediately after a lockdown in 2020 within few weeks of schools closing. While other countries took a much longer time. However, children in many countries have no access to any kind of education for months. A recent study finds a socioeconomic gap in Goggle searches for home-based learning resources following COVID-19 related school closures mentioning that rich parents are looking for distance learning opportunities at higher rates than poorer households and suggests that learning loss during school closure is likely to be even more critical and uneven than before.

“The students of the future will demand the learning support that is appropriate for their situation or contect nothing more or nothing less.” Marcus Specht

Education Technology is not the complete answer

To sit at home and taking online classes by using your personal computers seems very convenient. Technology has made our lives more comfortable. In-depth if we dissect the issue we realize that online education does not cover all the areas of holistic development as is not as beneficial as traditional classroom teaching and learning process. Technology cannot replace teachers or reduce inequality. Traditional education when you are physically in school makes students feel less lonely which improves their interpersonal skills. The students build more confidence, as the student

might feel like they are not facing problems related to academics alone. Working in groups and interacting with students strengthen social ties which are very important in this rapidly growing technological world.

“COVID -19 has intensified and exaggerated fault lines in contemporary societies revealing back to us our ways of dealing with inequality.” (Julian Sefton-Green — UNESCO Future of Education Idea LAB,26 August 2020)

Traditional education urges students to attend lessons and to study when required. This is not surprising that online education depends on technologies that a large number of families around the globe do not have access to. In underdeveloped countries, only 1 in 5 households has access to the internet.

Blended learning ( online and onsite learning ) is the answer to many problems.

COVID -19 has intensified and exaggerated fault lines in contemporary societies revealing back to us our ways of dealing with inequality. Julian Sefton-Green — 26 August 2020

Education in Pakistan during COVID – 19

All educational institutions in our country closed in March 2020 and since then the already struggling education system is fighting its battle for a smooth sail. In between, there are periods when the COVID-19 ratio is low and students do attend classes physically.Education plays a pivotal role in the growth and prosperity of any country.

The sudden shift towards digital teaching and learning has caused huge disturbance for students, teachers, and even for parents. Teachers are not technically trained or lack computer skills. The Unavailability of the internet and other hardware and software resources is a great matter of concern.

Pakistan launched eTaleem portal and apps like Taleemabad to encourage remote learning. On the other hand, the government has faced major criticism from students, asking for exams to be postponed or canceled. According to an estimate, Pakistan will suffer the loss of $67-155 billion if the recently opened educational institute will close again. The world Bank has offered $20 million to Pakistan to start an inclusive teaching and learning system targeted at 19.1 million out-of-school children who might opt to support their families facing pandemic originated financial hardships. This is one of the significant achievements of the government. The government is striving to restructure the educational sector in the country.

The government has implemented various educational reforms especially in the field of curriculums, teaching methodologies, and other resources along with infrastructure. Now we all are in a wait-and-watch situation when it comes to the effective implementation of government reforms in the education sector, the severity of COVID-19 in the future, and the future of onsite and online education in Pakistan.