The current pandemic, though tragic, played a key role in exposing our society’s many key faults. From the overwhelmed and underpaid essential workers to the glaring inequities in most educational institutes, the list is way too long. Thus, COVID-19 shed light, while increasing these issues. Moreover, as the world continues to live with this new reality, education around the world sufferers and inequality thrives.
Expanding the educational gape
Losing the ability to learn is in many cases equivalent to losing the right to a better future. Back when the world was quarantining, schools chose the online learning root. On paper the idea is great and all, but reality demands different outcomes. For a kid, teenager, or adolescent to manage online learning, they must have a stable wifi connection, an electronic device, and an actual space to study.
Developing countries have always had some issue or another when it comes to an internet connection. However, the problem is even worse when low-income homes don’t have electricity to power the connection. As for a laptop or a phone to follow the class, well technology is expensive. A family sharing the same device is no longer an option. Everyone in the house will need their own. On the other hand, many learners don’t have their own room, let alone a desk. Thus, they don’t have the required environment for productive education.
People with high incomes don’t experience these inconveniences. They probably don’t know such things even exist. In the past, education was a means to close the rift between the rich and the less fortunate. But now it’s just another rich privilege. Thus, researchers believe that existing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps could expand by 15 to 20 percent. Furthermore, many education researchers dread that students who suffered the greatest learning losses in the spring may never catch up.
Moreover, education economist Douglas Harris of Tulane University in New Orleans stated that “There were gaps before. Now they’re wider. A great accomplishment, unfortunately, would be to get back to where they were before this pandemic started.”
Bridging the digital divide
In the United States, researchers suggest that 10 to 20 percent of students lacked access to devices such as tablets or computers, the internet, or both, during the spring shift to online instruction. Furthermore, an April survey from Washington, D.C discovered that some 43 percent of low-income students would likely have to complete their homework on a cell phone. Thus, nonprofit groups are trying their best to acquire laptops and other devices for those in need. Providing the much needed devices will certainly help in lessing the educational gape.
Another solution is smart” buses with Wi-Fi hot spots in areas without reliable internet access. This way those with no or poor wifi connection can have access to their education.
Creating Pandemic pods
Another creative solution is creating pandemic pods. At a first glance, tutor hiring might just be the ideal idea to worsen inequities since the rich are more than capable to hire the best ,while the poor wont be able to hire anyone at all. However, it can actually prove to benefit both sides. In Mexico, for example, the community formed such pods for exchanging services such as English lessons and housekeeping. This way both parties benefit during this global health crisis.
“When families and communities are in crisis, that’s when they come together to pool and share resources,” says Prado, a fifth-year doctoral student in education at the University of California, Irvine.
In brief, in times of need, we must find creative means to preserve this generation’s education. The gape between social inequality might be wide but time and effort will somehow shrink it.
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