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How Had Covid-19 Impacted Education

Date Added: 01/06/2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the education sector worldwide. More so, with universities that had to close premises on account of lockdown measures. 

The closure of campuses was ostensible to prevent community transmission and all face-to-face classes were moved to an online format and remote sessions accelerated. 

The crisis also dented the aspirations and value of university education where networking and social opportunities are equally important as the educational content and branding. 


The higher education sector gets a jolt

In the education sector, higher education had its dramatic jolt from the pandemic with education systems around the world forced into “emergency eLearning” protocols as a rapid transition from face-to-face classes to online learning systems.

However, leveraging eLearning tools and platforms as an alternative hurt effective student engagement and also raised limitations of accessibility and affordability among students. 

The pandemic was a curtain-raiser on the shortcomings of the current higher education system and the plight of educators who had to use digital technology without adequate preparedness.


Remote learning has limitations

For students, remote learning is not a happy proposition as face-to-face communication is not very result-oriented. Also, there is less socialization and camaraderie and a sense of belonging in the virtual classrooms. In-person support from teachers is also wanting. 

No amount of online videos, digital content, and discussion forums can substitute the emotional comfort the holistic teaching-learning outcome had been giving.


Covid-19 pandemic’s fallout indicated that the education world is embracing eLearning and virtual education in a big way as alternatives and will increase the share to be an integral part of the higher education system. 

That is why many universities have already hinted the future course schedule will be a hybrid of online and offline classes fondly called Blended learning. 

The challenge before higher education institutions and universities is to plan for the post-pandemic scenario and ensure fair learning outcomes and standards of educational quality are intact.


Harbinger of change 

The switch to remote instructions is no longer a stop-gap arrangement and the baby step is looking to metamorphose into new delivery systems and the education market is also bracing for alliances of online education and student engagement via innovative tools including teacher training. 

Stronger business deals between universities, online education companies, and technology providers will be on the horizon and the post-pandemic scene will not be the same before.


Resources needed for online boost

To stay competitive in the emerging scenario, universities have to train a vast pool of educators on digital technology for making the teaching-learning process effective. They will need high-quality programs for the professional development of educators to sharpen teaching skills.

On the flip side, the pandemic exposed the pitfalls of the current education systems and the need for more digital training, tools, platforms and rapid steps to curb the digital divide. 


University education gets redefined

The pandemic has blasted many entrenched notions about the role of higher education institutions in terms of quality, mode of delivery, accessibility, continued learning, and eligibility standards of learners forcing a rethink and review. 

Also, the angle of over-work, stress among the teaching faculty from the abrupt shift to online learning cannot be overlooked. 

To add more efficiency and better learning outcomes teachers have to revamp learning models, add new modes of curriculum, freshen the e-content, devise better assessment methods, and reporting. 

These changes also warrant giving more autonomy to educators and enhancing communication within the higher education supply chain.

The financial strain on universities and funding bodies will also increase. New investments in health and safety measures and expansion of infrastructure on campuses for the students and staff will impose new financial strain on universities. 

Even well-equipped research institutions are not spared from the Covid 19 challenges. They have limitations on excessive social distancing as research involves both bench work and fieldwork. This has affected graduate students to scientists and research scholars hurting the career plans of many research students. 


The plight of international students

Despite the switch over to online learning prolonged closures, international students are facing problems of deferred classes and examination schedules in disarray leading to uncertainty in the legal status of many host countries. 


UK plan for international students 

However, many foreign education markets are trying to usher in normalcy and trying to reassure prospective students. 

The UK government released a Covid-19 roadmap in February 2021 and said the student intake season in September most UK universities will process international applications as normal and ensure the return of traditional study and learning systems.

The UK has assured International students can use various vaccinations available quicker than their home country and get protection. The period of quarantine in managed hotel accommodation for international students will be reimbursed. 


Economic loss and problems of deprived sections

In the non-university sector too, the pandemic wrought havoc. Although the educational community and providers have made commendable efforts to maintain learning continuity the huge disadvantage faced by children from the poorer sections need special mention. 

Learners from deprived social groups had been the hardest hit as poor access to digital learning resources and the pathetic circumstances have dented their motivation for self-learning and are falling behind the race. At the teachers’ end, there are issues of over-work, stress and imperfect reporting systems from the abrupt shift to online learning that will need an empathetic review. 


The economic toll of learning loss

According to experts, the economic toll of this disruption from the pandemic is quite serious. The loss amounts to a wastage of one-third of the academic year for the student fraternity. 

Lost learning is a loss of skills. Skills are directly linked to the productivity and growth of a nation’s gross domestic product. Ongoing studies will shortly reveal how much the Covid-19 pandemic has injured the education sector and rattled the GDP growth of various countries.

It will be legitimate to expect a new model in higher education as universities lack previous models to fall back in addressing the current situation.

University communities will be compelled to reframe their vision and mission to maintain desired to learn outcomes and keep standards of educational quality while leveraging the digital and campus infrastructure optimally. 

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