Key quotes on COVID-19 and education: What’s the future of school?

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by Chanté Russell, International Journalists’ Network

The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the last school year for many students around the world. Now, experts are looking ahead to how ongoing outbreaks will affect education in both the near and distant future. 

To discuss how countries around the world are handling education in the face of crisis and important considerations while covering the issue, deputy director of the Education Writers Association (EWA) Eric Robelen led a conversation with Brookings Institution’s Emiliana Vegas; Chika Oduah, an award-winning Nigerian-American journalist; and Antônio Gois, a Brazilian education reporter, consultant and founder of the Brazilian Association of Education Reporters. 

The panelists shared trends they’ve observed, insights into how other countries are approaching schooling and advice for journalists. 

Gois noted the importance of contextualizing when comparing courses of action from different countries saying, “It’s hard to have international references without considering the level of development of each country.”

On how global inequality is exacerbating the inequities in education 

Panelists said that inequalities between countries as well as individual students within those countries have influenced national education plans. 

Oduah said that Kenya was trying to adopt digital learning but parents weren’t really able to help kids tap into virtual learning or homeschooling. A lack of access to computers also made it infeasible. “So, they pretty much said no school. And this affects 18 million young people across Kenya…This also includes the 150,000 young people living in refugee camps,” she said.

Inaccessibility is an issue in many other parts of the world as well. “…there’s also a lot of inequality in how much, even with households that have connectivity, how often and how regularly students are connecting because the situation in households is quite different. So some households may be able to have a device per student, parents who can help, [but] some may have one device that they share across the family and parents may have to use it for work,” Vegas said.

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