How the education sector should respond to COVID-19

The pandemic impacts every area of the lives of every person around the globe, and the sector that has been education has been hit by its worst crisis in a century.

The coming and hierarchy of the Covid-19 pandemic caught everyone off guard; the pandemic, and its reverberating influences, are far from over.

The pandemic has influenced every area of the lives of every individual around the globe, and education has been hit by its worst crisis in a century. In some countries, policymakers have been doing their best to react to a phenomenal and fast-moving situation; in others, they are yet to grasp the magnitude of this monumental shock. Evidence on the effectiveness and impact of various policy and programmatic responses has been in short supply, in part because few countries were prepared. But regaining learning is now a gigantic task in need of serious action.

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Here are some ways the education sector can respond to Covid 19

  1. Ensure schools and preschools are kept fully open

 The huge educational, economic, social, and mental health expenses incurred from school closures indicate that full or partial school closure should be the last alternative in governments’ Covid-19 mitigation strategies. These costs plummet heavily on the less well-off girls and could lead to an increased risk of teen pregnancy. The consequences of school closures will last longer than disruptions in many other sectors since losses in human capital can lead to a reduction in income and productivity throughout a child’s life.

 Schools and educational institutions not only provide spaces for learning, but also provide a spectrum of critical services for students, including school meals, psychosocial support, and protection.

Kids need to be supported in their return to school and furnished with comprehensive support that not only guarantees their learning but also their wellbeing. Where disruptions cause shorter-term losses, the emphasis should be on ensuring preschools, primary, and secondary schools are fully open over ensuring non-education sectors are open.

  1. Prioritizing the Covid-19 vaccination, providing, and using masks where appropriate, and improving ventilation to prevent the spread

The GEEAP refers to ventilation and masking as key pandemic mitigation measures and calls for prioritizing teachers for vaccination.

 A randomized evaluation carried out in Bangladesh found that even imperfect masking substantially reduced community transmission. A 30-percentage-point increase in mask-wearing was said to reduce transmission by 11% for surgical masks and 5% for the cloth masks often used in schools.

  1. Make use of technology that is fit to country’s context

Remote education was not accessible to most students in low- and middle-income countries and most remote learning solutions were an ineffective substitute for in-person learning. Low-tech and no-tech solutions have been effective in many areas. But eventually, technology has the potential to be an effective support in all education systems. In Brazil, text messages sent to students curtailed dropout rates by 26% during the pandemic and in Bangladesh, mentoring and home-schooling assistance furnished by tutors through mobile phones had a large impact on learning outcomes.

  1. Make provision for additional instructional support to teachers

Teachers need support to continue boosting their teaching skills, for example through structured pedagogy and simple teaching guides, to furnish effective learning to their students as they return. They would also need increased human support to accommodate students’ different learning levels and needs. In South Africa, youth who volunteered as teaching assistants dramatically increased their reading and math skills.

  1. Modify teaching to reflect the new reality and focus on important foundational skills

As students come back to school, curricula will need to be adjusted and aligned across the system to focus on foundational skills that children have missed. It will be too difficult for teachers to cover all the curricula as if children were just returning from a short break rather than maa jor disruption to their schooling. Creating catch-up classes is critical to meet children at their learning level rather than their curriculum grade.

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