Education and learning in a global pandemic era and its impact on the workforce!
While countries are at different points in their COVID-19 infection rates, there are currently more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries across the world affected by school closures due to the pandemic.
Given the digital divide, affluent countries are better prepared for online strategies when compared to middle- and lower-income groups. Many children from lower-income families do not have a desk, books, Internet connectivity, a laptop at home, or supportive parents. Others do. As such, they will be at a greater disadvantage when learning goes online.
The appropriate strategy is to use online tools to assure that lesson plans, videos, tutorials, and other resources are available for some students and most teachers, but also, podcasts and other resources that require less data usage. Working with telecommunication companies to apply zero-rate policies can also facilitate learning material to be downloaded on a smartphone, which more students are likely to have.
The advantage we have today is that, through social networks, WhatsApp or SMS, ministries of education can communicate effectively with parents and teachers and provide guidelines, instructions and structure to the learning process, using content delivered by radio or TV. Remote learning is not only about online learning, but also mixed media learning, with the objective of reaching as many students as possible, today.
How children learning at home intertwines with parents working from home.
Many of our employers and, indeed, our government, seem to expect continued productivity from individuals who are also cooking, cleaning and ensuring the kids are off their devices and on their homework. They thought working from home would allow them to be more efficient while also being more present with their children.
Every parent who has tried to work while children are present knows that children are great interrupters. Children do not knock before entering, and they will not be as committed as we are to the invisible boundaries, we try to build around a corner of a bedroom or around a dining table. Unfortunately, the work culture is such that they are expected to put work ahead of everything else, to not disappoint colleagues and bosses, to prioritize ‘the economy’. If the pandemic persists, the pressure of losing jobs or having to share the same flat 24/7 will be felt intensely through having the housework-life conflict experienced at home.