COVID-19 is widening the education gap. This is how we can stop it

learn educaiton

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Priyanka Jaisinghani, Managing Editor, Conscious Magazine, Co-Founder of GirlzFTW


  • Coronavirus-induced school closures in the US has removed a safety-net for many, going beyond education.
  • Virtual classrooms are highlighting social inequalities, be it differences in home furnishings or a lack of internet to even join the call.
  • Just as important as how virtual the autumn 2020 term should be, is the question of how inclusive it can be made.

When governments across the globe enacted “stay-at-home” orders, it changed the fabric of how we interact within our society. In one fell swoop, we saw the closure of schools, educational institutions and universities.

Thousands of students went from learning in a physical space to a virtual realm; within a matter of days, educators had transformed lesson plans into content fit for Zoom.

In the US in May this year the situation was the following: 48 states, four US territories, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) had ordered or recommended school-building closures for the rest of the academic year. The effects would be felt by some 50.8 million public school students.

Within one classroom, we can have students join sessions from the Hamptons, while others join from their crowded apartments, sometimes even shelters.

—Priyanka Jaisinghani

Coronavirus-induced school closures have impacted at least 124,000 US public and private schools.

The temporary closure of thousands of schools has disrupted more than day-to-day education. Schools served as a safety net for many students; they acted as a gateway to hot meals, special education services, therapy, high-speed internet access and more.

When we removed the physicality of school, these safety nets evaporated and we removed access to these vital services.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Within the past few months, this new world has transformed living rooms, bedrooms and all available corners of a home into the new classroom. We’re seeing the combination of this new format and school closures has exposed the fragility of our education system and widened the inequality gap.

Within one classroom, we can have students join sessions from the Hamptons, while others join from their crowded apartments, sometimes even shelters. Students are conscious about their environment, their insecurities have been amplified. The physical space of school created an equal equation.

Many students struggle to join virtual classes as they lack access to reliable internet service. According to reports from the Federal Communications Commission, some 20 million Americans do not have access to the internet, and a large portion of those students without access are students of colour.

The transition to online has impacted vulnerable communities in a disproportionate way.

With lockdown measures, many such students aren’t able to go to alternative locations to access better and faster wifi, and yet digital access is no longer a luxury; it is now essential to life.

 

When we look a little closer at the accessibility of resources, some 10% of students (ages 3-19) live in households without access to a laptop or desktop computer. Within a single household, students are also facing the tricky reality of sharing a single device with siblings and/or parents.

Poor access to both the internet and devices increases for lower-income students. School closures might only end up totalling three months of the academic year but the effects are not to be underestimated with the likelihood being that disadvantaged students will fall further behind.

Looking towards the future

As schools look try to navigate the rest of their school year safely and securely, they have the opportunity to recreate the space. We can reimagine how education can be inclusive and what it should look like.

We’ve seen how in this completely remote learning environment, virtual cannot be the solution as we are not on equal footing.

Without the vital resources that schools provide, students will be left behind, and vulnerable communities impacted in disproportionate fashion.

In the coming weeks, schools across the US and indeed the world over will unveil plans for the autumn term to either be completely remote, in-person or a hybrid approach. Irrespective of the approach taken, how are they planning to create an inclusive plan to support students?

 

It is possible to imagine what a more equal education system could look like. New York State has already made strides in reimagining a new world of education by collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to redesign future schooling.

This collaboration can act as a blueprint for schools across the nation in rethinking our current inadequate structures.

As Governor Cuomo has said, “One of the areas we can really learn from is education because the old model of our education system where everyone sits in a classroom is not going to work in the new normal.”

Among those opportunities there to seize are reducing education inequality, meeting the educational needs of students with disabilities, breaking down barriers to high-quality education and preparing our educators with an expanded toolkit.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

Industrial policy: recommendations to support Europe’s leadership in six strategic business areas

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

5 ways to break down the barriers for women to access leadership roles

A Sting Exclusive: “On the road to Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement”, by Ambassador Katakami of the Japanese Mission to the European Union

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen

Victims of terrorism remembered

Banks cannot die but can be fined

The next generation is key for a European renaissance

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says UN deputy chief

A Monday to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy; will there be catharsis or more fear?

Syrian Constitutional Committee a ‘sign of hope’: UN envoy tells Security Council

Coronavirus: Commission stands ready to continue supporting EU’s agri-food sector

Norway is returning Easter Island artefacts to Chile (Will Britain ever return the marbles to Greece?)

MWC 2016 Live: Mobile ad industry still waiting for “revolution”

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

Commission sets moderate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

Sudan Prime Minister survives attempted assassination

Monday’s Daily Brief: WFP mulls ‘last resort’ Yemen aid suspension, top peacekeeping awardee announced, abuzz over Bee Day, Ebola threat ‘very high’

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Why helping cross-border commuters is key to fighting COVID-19

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission takes first step to launch negotiations with the United Kingdom

Emotional control and introspectivity in times of pandemic

Why economic growth depends on closing the interview gap

The Khashoggi affair: A global complot staged behind closed doors

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

EU-Turkey relations: EU considers imposing sanctions while Turkey keeps violating Cyprus’ sovereignty

What if Trump wins the November election and Renzi loses the December referendum?

Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

Trump after marginalizing G20 attacks Europe and China where it hurts, brandishes currency war

EU-Ukraine Summit: moving forward together in solidarity

MEPs to prioritise environment and climate action in next long-term budget

In Libya, Guterres ‘deeply concerned’ by risk of fresh military confrontation, urges restraint

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

Poverty and social exclusion skyrocket with austerity

3 ways to use digital identity systems in global supply chains

EU leads the torn away South Sudan to a new bloody civil war

Gender parity can boost economic growth. Here’s how

Technology can help solve the climate crisis – but it will need our help

An open letter from business to world leaders: “Be ambitious, and together we can address climate change”

Cyclone Idai: UNICEF warns of ‘race against time’ to protect children, prevent spread of disease in flood-ravaged Mozambique

EU-US trade war? EU calls for logic while Trump’s administration is a loose cannon in a dangerous lose-lose situation for global prosperity

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

We spend half our time at work in meetings – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

Is history a new NATO weapons against Russia?

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

The jobs forecast is unsettled. It’s time for a reskilling revolution

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

UPDATED: Thousands flee fighting around Libyan capital as Guterres condemns escalation, urges ‘immediate halt’ to all military operations

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s