Date: March 2nd 2022,
Time: 12:00-13:20 (Universal Time/ Central European Time)
13:00-14:20 (South African Standard Time)
WEBINAR THEME: E-Learning during the pandemic: impact and challenges in the drive for better learning space.
According to UNESCO and the World Bank, approximately 1.5 billion children have had their education impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For over a year, the world has been in a state of uncertainty due to the global health pandemic. COVID-19 has brought to light many of the long-standing challenges faced by public education, exacerbating even more unequal opportunities that exist due to differences in access to resources, socially and materially, within national contexts. These soaring numbers only add up to the already existing numbers of those who, for one reason or another, do not have access to education. Many children from low-income families have suffered the most as a result of the pandemic. Due to this unprecedented occurrence that is challenging humans, schooling immediately switched to remote learning. Although it might have appeared to be a great solution at the beginning, it has, however, exposed the digital divide that exists in the education sector because many learners were left behind in the process of moving online. Thus, it only amplifies social inequality. It is important to recognize and analyze this consequence in order to understand the bigger implications of a neoliberal policy in education.
More than 150 countries worldwide have resorted to nationwide closures of schools, impacting over 85% of the world’s student population (UNESCO, April 2020). These figures may keep on increasing until a resolution is found. In Brazil, for instance, about 89% of teachers do not have the knowledge to use online learning tools. Students are not able to switch to remote learning, especially in low-income areas, due to poor internet connections, lack of income to access data and/or lack of internet in those areas, and a lack of the necessary technology, which would allow an effective relationship between them. And even when some of them have this access, they might still not have the skills to use them. In 2019, 4.3 million Brazilian students didn’t have access to the Internet. Among them, 4.1 million are from public schools, the most affected educational institutions due to recent federal cuts in the Education National Budget.
Global declarations on effects of COVID-19 on quality education
The effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the poor education management of different countries all over the world can have a potential impact on quality education, decreasing the decades of effort to build accessibility and equality of opportunities to thrive in a professional and social perspective. However, the inequality of access to quality education is a global issue the whole world has been facing even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the United Nations, “about 260 million children were still out of school in 2018-nearly one-fifth of the global population in that age group”. Yet, a UN study showed that about 370 million children all over the world were depending on school meals to be fed, and they had to find another path to walk through the hunger struggle. These statistics demonstrate how much attention and effort global chairpersons and women, policymakers, and heads of state must devote to global education. Furthermore, research conducted by The World Bank Research Observer (March 2021) concludes that global education will lose between 0.3 and 1.1 years of schooling adjusted for quality, which means both schooling and learning levels will decrease. This study also shows different scenarios for the future that might give some hope if all governments in the world took appropriate actions.
Why are we holding the discussions?
To continuously reiterate the increasing divide in the access and quality of education due to digital learning.
Key stakeholders for this discussion
Have discussions with key stakeholders like Education International, Student Leaders, Online Educational Platforms, and Educational Leaders.
What are the challenges?
Although obviously advantageous, e-learning faces some difficulties in its implementation. Poverty: Many families and students worldwide are unable to afford internet data for studies owing to high internet data costs as juxtaposed to the low living incomes..
Poor internet connection: Some metropolitan areas in the world today still don’t have access to quality internet connections, making the use of technology to study more of a pain than an aid particularly in third-world nations.
Untrained facilitators: The transition to E-learning was rather abrupt for many facilitators. Several educational institutions were not and most have still not been able to roll out the requisite capacity development models to facilitate the quality and efficiency of E-learning. Given that online teaching means reframing the content for the online framework, switching to online teaching without adapting the content may have negative impacts compared to face-to-face teaching and learning. In particular, when we consider the number of distractions that students encounter in their immediate environment.
Ignorance/Prejudice: Many still believe e-learning is not effective and practically feasible. It is important for governments to finance online teaching and learning and develop digitalization strategies in the context of curbing online learning.
Bring attention to the digital divide in education and remind the developed world that life has not gone back to normal for everyone yet.
- Addressing the divide in education due to digital learning,
- Ensuring a safe return to campuses and moving forward with the positive elements of digital learning (hybrid)