Coronavirus Impact on Education and Digital Learning Solutions

Coronavirus Impact on Education and Digital Learning Solutions

It took a few weeks for the coronavirus to wreak havoc on public and private education systems all over the world. Official data from UNESCO show that the first localized closure of schools started in China on 16 February, and reached its peak on 3 April with 193 country-wide closures. Currently, 6 May, the number sits at 177 country-wide closures or over 1.2 billion affected learners.
However, while the impacts are inevitable, the pandemic could force ways to reshape education for the better. The coronavirus crisis is pushing teachers, learners, and parents to think critically and creatively, to cooperate and interact better, and to be agile.
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 virus spotlights inequalities in different societies

We are living through a crisis of many names. It's a health, eco-social, financial, or even as the Guardian calls it, a crisis of touch. Distance online education worked in many countries, yet virtual connectivity has been impossible for millions of children and students.

Further data from UNESCO showed that more than 40 percent of children out of schools had no internet access at home as COVID-19 was spreading. They either lack an internet connection or the necessary devices. Even when they have it, poverty may force families to decide between paying the internet connection or using the money for food.

Make sure that children return to school

This pandemic crisis might be new to most countries, but it’s not unknown to many others. When it comes to the consequences of education the coronavirus shares many similarities with the Ebola outbreak.
Ebola forced millions of children out of schools for many months in West Africa. Many of those children, especially girls never went back to school due to various reasons. Thousands were orphaned while others fell in extreme poverty and couldn’t afford education. Child labor, child marriage, and pregnancy were among the reason why they didn’t return.

Schools are a safe place for millions of children all over the world. In developed countries, schools can be the place where children get their only proper meal or feel safe from abusive families or parents. In other developing countries schools help to keep children away from labor or different forms of abuse.
When the pandemic is over, it’s crucial to guarantee that schools are a safe place. Safety is one of the main reasons why parents keep their children out of school. For many kids living in remote communities, a walk to school can be extremely dangerous. Walking on cliff paths, crossing rivers or waterways on old bridges or no bridges at all are a threat to children. Not to mention that they often can suffer harassment, abduction, or sexual violence on their way to school.
Safety along with sanitation, poverty, gender, conflicts and refugee crisis, climate change, child labor and marriage, disabilities, lack of teachers, natural disasters, are major factors that force children to quit school altogether. Unfortunately, in those communities, health and sanitation concerns over coronavirus will be a reason more for kids to drop out of school.

How to use digital learning

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

The education sector is facing a major wave of online learning, but the question is how to make it more inclusive for underprivileged learners. This challenge calls for all types of creative solutions that combine digital learning with offline alternatives. Traditional media such as public TV broadcasters or community radios can be powerful tools in remote communities to ensure that children remain in education and turn back to school.

In the meantime, the challenge can be different in other countries. Schools are more than just a place of learning. Switching from school communities to easy-to join online learning communities’ needs to preserve the values of coaching, socializing, and having fun while sharing knowledge.
"It is common that when we learn something new we feel the need to share it with others. This is another purpose of education, sharing knowledge. In the case where course learners are part of a bigger community or network of people, like the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, they can encourage others by sharing what they have learned from the free online courses," Ronald Wandira, said for The New Times referring to the Entrepreneurship Campus online community of aspiring social entrepreneurs.

Learning entrepreneurial skills can be extremely helpful for post-COVID-19 recovery. The pandemic has proven that every job, especially those considered essential jobs, require a set of skills. People in entrepreneurial training can build the right mindset to get started with ideas that would help people with a different skill set to stay in employment or even reduce the skills gap.
The sure thing is that people who live or mature through such a crisis are those who will change the world. If you want to give a contribution but you’re stuck home, you can join the Entrepreneurship Campus and be part of the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition. The platform will provide you access to free online training, to a wide network of people that have done or are doing their part in making the world more sustainable. You can learn how to come up with opportunities out of small and big challenges or how to find potential in what already exists.

The 2020 CEC supports the Education 2030 Framework for Action which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. It comprises SDG 4, which has ten associated targets that are universally applicable and require the collaboration and engagement of governments, civil society, youth, the private sector, and other agencies.
If you have an idea or project that champions SDG 4 or any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, you’re invited to join our competition in the youth or adult category.


UNESCO: COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response

UN education Agency: Startling disparities in digital learning emerge as COVID-19 spreads

The long (and sometimes dangerous) walk to school – How Children Around The World Get To School 

Photo by M. Monk on Unsplash

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