This article will be focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the educational system.
Switch in the mode of learning
The education sector saw a dramatic change during the coronavirus pandemic which took the world by surprise last year. In March 2020, students were sent home as part of the lockdown, which led to them working with new or refurbished online learning platforms. Later in the year, a new series of measures were developed, where some universities reverted to face-to-face teaching entirely, some stayed fully online, and others practised a mixture.
In the past year, there is no gainsaying, in the fact that the spread of the COVID-19 virus has had a wide impact in many dimensions around the world and that the educational sector was not left behind in the consequent devastating effects of the pandemic. The scourge became a driving force for the adaptation of new technology and innovations into educational pursuit, which has propelled students to learn independently to meet world standards.
COVID-19 forced most classrooms to be closed, which led to the eventual switch to online classes. A topic debated by many that may be or may not be as effective as classroom learning. Nonetheless, there were some shortfalls in this approach regarding students not possessing the necessary gadgets for online learning or internet access, which translated to interruption of learning, especially for children who grow up in disadvantaged families.
It is a fact that there are students who do not have a computer or internet connection in their homes to allow the whole family to connect, governments of some countries took some measures to provide support to families who are disadvantaged in this aspect, as well as the purchase of laptops for students in general and for vocational training students who do not have enough equipment at home.
3 Major Challenges with the Change in Mode of Learning
1. Change in responsibility
The issue of change in responsibility is germane to point out first, in that parents saw it fit to impose the lesson programs they see fit for video lessons. Translating to the fact that schools allowed intervention in an area that should not have been allowed in any way. Also, parents should not have been allowed to interfere in the evaluation process, as this process is solely the responsibility of the teachers. In short, in the COVID-19 era, it seemed that all parameters regarding professional ethics and rules specific to teachers have been eroded.
2. Difficulty in conducting practical classes
Also notable is the objective difficulties that arose in the applied lessons. A lot of practical courses at universities were greatly affected in this respect. It was an impossible task for students to learn to use the relevant tools or equipment by correctly managing their hands or body posture with video lessons. Most of these students had to settle for just the theoretical knowledge base.
In various countries, some national television stations broadcasted lectures on different subjects/courses for all students, but most especially to target students without internet access and/or computers. Also noteworthy is the loss of the feelings of belonging, participation, empathy, commitment, friendship, and interaction that characterized school life. With the closure of schools, the psychological and social impacts were greatly put at risk, and these issues, defined as unnecessary problems, were often overlooked.
3. Lack of consideration for special needs students
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic caused even more damage to students with special needs causing them to become more sidelined and thereby dropping out of school altogether.
Students with disabilities and their families were greatly affected by this forced exclusion. And there were few attempts to meet the special needs of those in this group and to reduce the exclusion they faced. Undoubtedly, this forced loneliness caused a serious setback or loss in psychological terms and in the interpersonal relationships necessary to increase the will to live.
The aftermath of the COVID-19 enforced switch on the educational sector
Higher institutions of learning had to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges posed by the epidemic, as this phenomenon fundamentally changed the operation of higher education institutions and educational and research activities. This is especially true for international exchange programs, a collaboration with foreign institutions which was moved online. Institutions had to give special support to the lecturers and students to foster this experience.
It is important to note that international scholarship programs and institutional collaborations did not stop during the pandemic as new procedures were developed to keeps students studying or doing training through virtual learning, which posed some educational methodology, technology, and organizational challenges for universities. Yet, the epidemic also brought some opportunities, in terms of new forms of cooperation, effective communication and digital solutions, making it possible to involve even wider groups and new target groups in the international activities of universities. New institutional practices were also developed to help university staff either develop long-term plans or perform day-to-day management tasks, with the introduction of digital solutions which are used in the recruitment and enrollment of students and how to organize clinical practice for students.
The effect of COVID-19 was not only felt at the higher level of education alone, but it also cut across the board from primary to secondary school learners as well, not to mention the economic, or social impact as well. More so, the elementary students whose attention can’t be caught and sustained in an online class.
In terms of the economic impact on the university system itself, the income decreased, especially so for private universities that couldn’t get their usual patronage from the international students, who were forced to adopt distance learning as imposed by the pandemic. This posed an unprecedented problem, in that many schools were forced to close or close admissions.
Pushing for a new education model after COVID-19
The year 2020, brought about the unforeseen transformation of the education sector, from the Conventional model to new options and adaptations. Showing that the education industry can adapt itself to technological advancement, in its journey towards achieving its goals.
The universities also had to strive to meet certain conditions and regulations of the federal and state government prescribed for teaching and examination operations at universities during the pandemic. They aimed for different scenarios, which are largely based on scenarios such as exercises and seminars being carried out with a mask and in compliance with the distance and ventilation rules in presence, while larger lectures were carried out digitally, mixed formats which meant that the option of participating digitally or in-person was offered. The universities have acted differently and efficiently since the beginning of the pandemic. In this way, they have sustainably reduced the risk of infection in their area of responsibility and at the same time continuously enabled students to complete their degrees.
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