It has been a few months since the coronavirus has taken over our lives and has forced us to change the ways in which we live. There is not a single aspect that the virus has not impacted, forcing us to retreat and devise a new pattern of living.
One of those aspects is education.
The education sector has taken a serious shaking, so much so, that we had to redefine the way we get an education. And this has opened our eyes to some not so appealing facts.
Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, governments around the globe were forced to shut schools down, which might’ve been a thrilling prospect for students initially, but we soon realized just how challenging it quickly became.
Closing of Schools: a Blessing or a Curse?
Turning to the cyber world for support, the new policies in regards to education went virtual, and students were pushed into taking online classes. Though, it might’ve been convenient for some, this new method of learning soon brought out an ugly truth to life.
And that is educational inequality.
The presentation of this new fact opened our eyes to the fact that some areas around the world still do not have a proper internet service, making it difficult for students to get access to education. However, the government has tried to find a solution to this problem, but one cannot ignore the literacy rates and how one needs to be educated enough to use a computer and access the internet.
Along with the digital divide comes the gender divide that is still prevalent, and this situation with COVID-19 has opened our eyes to those who are marginalized and how it has become nearly impossible for them to get an education.
According to UNESCO, with the closing of educational institutions, those who suffer from various disabilities are at a disadvantage, as it is difficult for them to get an education from a distance. Not only that, but the female students are at a higher disadvantage as compared to their male counterparts, simply because the closing down of schools has left them with little protection; with girls being left alone in the house, it makes them vulnerable to sexual assault and forced marriage.
The Psychology of Education
Furthermore, does learning in isolation really has the same impact as learning amongst peers? The answer is an obvious no, however, we are desperate. With the coronavirus affecting thousands of people everyday, we need to take drastic measures to stay safe as well as get the education that we and our children deserve. However, this isolation has deprived the students, especially children, from social interactions and outdoor play which is essential to their growth and their well-being.
Children need to go out and engage in physical activities in order to boost their strength and immune system. Participating in sports not only benefits their health, but it also teaches them social skills and how to behave and get along with their peers. And being unable to go out and play, there is a possibility that children would experience adverse effects. Also, sitting in front of the computer in order to get an education would have a negative impact on children: affecting their eyesight and brain development. Indulging in classes like arts and music or any other co-curricular activities is a chance for students to explore their creativity and figure out what it is that makes them happy, and since these classes are not given much consideration in light of the coronavirus, one can assume that a child’s creativity and individuality is at stake.
Children in middle or secondary schools, who are just now starting to make sense of the world and understand their surroundings might end up having identity crisis as they would find it difficult to belong. Schools give us a sense of belonging where we find like-minded people and gain confidence to mingle in society. Now with the prevalence of COVID-19 that confidence and sense of belonging could shatter, resulting in self-esteem issues.
Moreover, students in high schools have their own challenges to face against COVID-19. With the cancellation of exams both standardized and localized, students are finding it extremely difficult to get admissions into their preferred universities as the universities are considering GPAs and Grades achieved as the basis of their admission criteria, which puts those students who have not done so well in school at a disadvantage, since those students were relying on these standardized exams for admissions and scholarships.
Undergrad and graduate students not only had their research put to a halt, but those who recently graduated and were looking for jobs are no longer able to find any since the spread of COVID-19 has brought the economy to a halt, which has led to these students fearing for their futures and their daily survival as these students carry a lot of student debt and being unable to find a job would result in them being unable to pay off their student loans. And because of all this, these students fall into depression, causing the already high scale to rise higher and higher.
COVID-19 and Supervisors
Though, staying indoors is a necessary precaution, it has taken a toll on the minds of people, to the point where they needs professional help. Depression and anxiety has been on the rise since the inception of COVID-19, considering it has forced us to go against our very nature of being social animals. Being cooped up in our houses and watching those we love and cherish suffer has made it a challenge for us to communicate with one another and talk about our feelings.
Furthermore, the closing down of schools has affected the parents and how they live their lives. The households with two working parents seem to find this a challenge, as they now have to supervise their children and help them out with their school work, along with working their own jobs, leaving them with added work and no time to rest.
Moreover, parents are petitioning for the schools to lessen the fees and some schools have taken their request into consideration, however, there are plenty of schools who refuse to reduce the tuition fees, adding to the already long list of financial problems that the people are facing.
Covid-19 vs. Our Health
The closing down of schools has not only impacted us psychologically, but for those who relied on schools to provide them with food are now at a major disadvantage as they cannot afford a proper meal anymore. And with the lack of nourishment, these students become vulnerable to contracting the virus from their surroundings.
Even though the government is doing everything in its power to provide for its citizens, there is still a long way to go to ensure that every student is getting the proper help and education that he or she requires. We are not looking at equality but at equity because every child deserves an education.
Food for Thought
After going through the article:
1) What solutions do you guys have to combat the educational divide?
2) Is there a better way to tackle this problem?
3) What does the future hold for education in terms for COVID-19?