UNESCO Report States Learning Strategies Adopted During Covid-19 not Inclusive
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, education strategies adopted by governments around the world are "exaggerating the exclusion of students," said the Global Education Monitoring Report 2020. The report is an annual assessment of the status of education in the world by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO.
In April, 91 per cent of students from 194 countries were affected by the national lockdown imposed as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus at its peak.
In order to facilitate 'learning continuity,' the ill-prepared adoption of distance learning through online learning and teaching has, in fact, driven economically disadvantaged students out.
A lack of adequate on-line infrastructure and pedagogical challenges has made "imperfect substitutions for classroom training" for distance learning measures.
Low-income countries may be heavily affected by poor policymaking, but middle and higher-income countries have also seen the exclusion of poor students.
Education and technology
Strategies for countries differed considerably depending on their economic status. According to the GEM report, 64% of low-income countries relied on primary education radio, compared to 42% of upper-middle-income countries.
"Overall, about 40% of low-and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as those living in remote areas, the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities," the report said.
While the majority of low-to middle-income countries, including India, have used television programs to continue in the classroom.
In relatively rich countries, the use of online methods was 93% for primary and secondary education. The report, however, suggests that the prevalent digital divide "lays bare" the limitations of this approach.
In addition, the sudden change in the online method of distribution of educational materials has posed challenges for teachers. "A survey in the United States found that only 43 per cent of teachers were willing to facilitate distance learning, and only 1 in 5 said school leaders provided guidance," the report said.
Online learning has been particularly difficult for students with disabilities. Online classes have proved to be futile for children with mild learning difficulties, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, may struggle with independent work in front of a computer.
“By increasing social isolation, the pandemic also increased the risk of marginalized students disengaging further from education and leaving school early,” the report further added.
The report further urged the governments across the world to take a close look at the inclusion challenges highlighted in the report to rebuild education systems that are better and accessible to all learners.