The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to all aspects of daily life, and world governments have responded with national and international measures to stop the spread of the virus. This has led to the temporary closure of educational institutions which affect more than 60% of the world’s student population (according to UNESCO).
These effects on the education system and a rapid transition to digitized teaching not only expose circumstances that pose challenges during the crisis, but also highlight and exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities.
The right to education is a human right, yet its implementation is far from being a reality, especially in developing countries with disadvantaged education systems. Countries must have invested in the necessary infrastructure and technology long before the crisis to ensure academic continuity now.
The current crisis shows which countries have invested in digitisation and which have not. Even in developed countries like Germany, states are struggling with it and have not really been pushed forward. Even before the crisis the administration was not able to digitally manage its processes – schools are no exception.
However, there are many other factors in the actual everyday context that pose challenges for parents, teachers, pupils and students. For example, how many children a family has, how much space or separate rooms exist for learning and concentration, whether the necessary technology is accessible – if there are even enough devices available. Even middle class families fail to equip their children with the necessary devices, and we´re not even talking about low-income families. That’s why it must be possible for every child to be able to participate in digital formats regardless of their parents‘ income. Homeschooling will continue, albeit to a lesser extent. We don’t have to fool ourselves.
Formats will probably change, and the school itself may also change – but one consequence of the corona crisis will be that digitization is becoming more important in schools. And everyone has to be able to participate. This means that all households need internet connections as well as computers or tablets. Also children in refugee accommodation.
Some additional sources we found to be informative and important regarding the issue #education and digitalization:
The law blog post of Universities Leiden Ensuring the right to education in times of COVID-19 discusses the human right to education and asks whether education systems could have prepared better.
In Datafication and automation in higher education during and after the Covid-19 crisis Ben Williamson at the University of Edinburgh discusses the expansion of the model of the ‘datafied university’ that is increasingly governed by algorithmic, data analytic, and automated systems and in which the roles of staff and students may be redefined.
In the interview Higher Education in Crisis Times with Teresa Völker, Paula – Irene Villa from the LMU München talks about the initiative „Nicht-Semster“ (calling for a cancellation of the regular spring semester during the Corona crisis) and how the crisis impacts the infrastructure of the german higher education system.
In After COVID-19: The Longer-Term Impacts of the Coronavirus Crisis on Education is a series of articles with twenty-one predictions by education experts throughout Monash University, Australia.