UNESCO reports that 1.5 billion students have been affected by school closures due to the Covid-19 outbreak, in 165 countries. This is more than 87 percent of all registered students. The Coronavirus crisis has become an education crisis.
In Europe, as OBESSU observe, most governments have temporarily closed their schools as a measure to contain the spread of the Covid-19. Education has shifted online but the situation is far from being ideal. While tertiary education institutions were already largely using online platforms to deliver courses before the crisis, in secondary education, distance learning platforms were not widely used or at least not to the same extent. In most countries, there is no standardisation and a lack of clear guidelines from Ministries of Education. Each school is responsible for providing online learning alternatives but they are lacking the financial and human resources needed to subscribe or set up efficient online learning platforms. There are disparities even within schools and the online learning tools used differ widely from one teacher to another. This lack of framework and resources leads to an extremely unequal situation that affects schools, teachers and most importantly students and apprentices.
The reaction paper by OBESSU illustrates that education institutions are, for the most part, ill-prepared for distance learning. This crisis, however, gives us the opportunity to rethink our schooling models and find new innovative methods of teaching. This period can be taken as an experimenting period to test new online learning platforms, learning outcomes and assessment methods. However, it also reminds us that technology cannot replace classroom teaching and the face-to-face interactions between students and teachers and most importantly that the social aspects of teaching and learning are fundamental.
To get a thorough account of the impact of Covid-19 on general education and vocational education, and to get a full picture of OBESSU’s recommended actions to be implemented to ameliorate the disruption caused by the move to distance learning – take a look here.