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  • Writer's pictureInclusion Advocate

(Op-Ed) Social Equity and Remoting Learning Should Go Hand-in-Hand

Guest contributor: Krish Jain

11-year-old child in Nairobi couldn't participate in online learning as his family has no mobile phone. (UNICEF)

Time and time again it has been proven that educating the youth is imperative. Education is an essential human virtue, is crucial for society, the foundation of the good life, and a sign of freedom. Inequality and lack of similar accessibility to opportunities have always been present but the COVID crisis has brought these to the forefront. Schools have been closed in more than 180 countries. Near 1.6 billion students are out of school. The world was working towards enriching lives and reducing learning poverty but this global pandemic has only deteriorated the situation.

Countries and leaders have made heroic efforts at large to put remote and remedial learning in place, however, learning losses are still piling up rapidly. While countries have responded in diverse ways, they have struggled in one area, reaching all students. There has been a large effort to distribute learning equipment to the masses but due to strains in the supply chain, this has not been completely effective. This has profound impacts on the student’s career prospects and also on society. Due to this obstacle in their education, the students are expected to lose around $10 trillion in labor earnings over their working lives as estimated by the World Bank Group. Those students with access to the internet are continuing their education using resources such as Khan Academy, CommonLit, Illustrative Mathematics, and Scholastic.

Another ramifying concern that is present is the rampant increase of misinformation online. Due to things largely moving online, bad actors are finding online platforms as an attack vector to mass hysteria through the masses. The last year has seen its share of extremists, radicals, anti-vaxxers amongst other things.

As billions of people lack resources to further educate themselves, the responsibility lies in us and in experts and politicians to protect the learning of all, especially the most vulnerable. Educators all around the world are attempting to employ innovative methods to widen their reach, for instance by putting their lectures on YouTube. During this unprecedented pandemic, people must put their trust in experts to help them understand and respond to the problems they face. Furthermore, governments must effectively coordinate policy instruments and make decisive strides in the right direction. This must be complemented by citizens cooperating and distinguishing between their civil liberties and helping slow down a global pandemic. Over the past several months, there has been a disparity in the reliance by those elected by the people on scientific expertise, as well as citizen’s trust in politicians. Thus, those in power need to find strategies to mitigate the upcoming problems by addressing the basic needs of children and their families by providing sufficient benefits and a safe environment, focus on learning remotely and encourage independent learning at home.

While this pandemic certainly challenged the world and pushed us to the limits, it has also highlighted the flaws in the way education systems behave and has left room for us to innovate and bring forth our best to help prevent another pandemic.


The opinions expressed in this op-ed represent those of the author(s), and Inclusion Advocate's publication of it alone is not meant as an endorsement.



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