COVID pandemic wreaked havoc on economies and educational institutions worldwide. The pandemic has impacted individuals from many areas of life on a national, economic, educational, and income level basis, among other things (Andrabi, Daniels, and Das, 2020). Everyone was concerned that the education system would be one of the systems hit by the epidemic. Students from affluent families were fortunate that their parents could assist them in studying outside of closed classrooms. It remained a terrible scenario for students from low-income families, as most of them relied only on government assistance. This disaster resulted in a mismatch of a few resources and different requirements, such as computer access to move to online schooling. In India, the situation was even more devastating as numerous numbers of children were left without proper education for a long period due to the closure of schools and lack of outlets to participate in online learning. However, positive impacts of rapid technology development could also be felt from the experience pointing to both negative and positive lasting effects.
The Pandemic Impacts on the Educational Sector
The digital divide became a prominent issue with the emergence of the pandemic. Developed countries were tackling the issue with moderate consequences on the maintenance of education; developing countries experienced a severe lack of necessary facilities. The utilization of Zoom rooms could be considered a luxury among India’s citizens. A survey of 1400 school children conducted in September of 2021 revealed that among disadvantaged households across 15 states, only 8% in rural areas and 24% in urban areas could access regular online classes (Bakhla et al. as cited in Yamini, 2022). Therefore, it is possible to argue that for two years, numerous children were left without access to educational means. This result suggests a bleak development of those households and the possibility of stagnating generation to be raised.
However, the situation is prominent in numerous regions worldwide. The data suggest that 1.6 billion children were influenced by the pandemic (Yamini, 2022). In countries with lower or middle-level economic power, schools were closed for a longer period in comparison to well-developed economies. The closure followed for up to 80 weeks in certain regions of South Asia, Latin America, and Africa (Yamini, 2022). Uganda has had the longest closure of 82 weeks and reopened its classrooms only in January of 2022 (Yamini, 2022). The consequences of such prolonged stagnation in education may incur insurmountable losses to the regions and households.
Learning deficit can have a major impact on lifetime productivity. Andrabi, Daniels, and Das (2020) investigated the impact of 14 weeks of missed schooling on Pakistani pupils following the 2005 earthquake (Andras er al., 2020). They estimate that these children’s learning impairments could cost them 15% of their lifetime earnings. Alternatively, nearly two years of school closures and limited distance learning could be even more devastating. According to the Asian Development Bank (2021), future productivity and lifetime earnings losses for affected pupils might total $1.25 trillion, or 5.4% of the region’s GDP in 2020. Therefore, the lingering effects of COVID on education and economics will remain for a long period.
In order to mitigate these effects, World Bank suggests several essential policies to be implemented. The first policy concerns implementation of a learning recovery program. Governments must guarantee that students who have fallen behind receive the assistance they require to catch up to projected learning objectives as soon as possible (Robin Donnelly, 2021). To identify these pupils and their assistance requirements, the first step must be to conduct just-in-time evaluations. According to World Bank research, 12-week tutoring programs can help kids achieve the same level of achievement as three to five months of traditional schooling (Robin Donnelly, 2021). Middle school pupils in Italy who got three hours of online coaching each week through computer, tablet, or smartphone improved their math, English, and Italian scores by 4.7 percent.
The second policy focuses on the need to protect the education budget. Given the tremendous financial hardship that economies have faced due to the epidemic, certain nations may face government budget cuts, jeopardizing recent advances in access to education and better learning results (Robin Donnelly, 2021). It is critical to safeguard the education budget and help the schools that require the greatest funding to achieve a strong comeback. To assist the most vulnerable pupils, governments should provide a large portion of cash and resources to schools that provide remote education, especially if those schools serve high-poverty and high-minority populations (Robin Donnelly, 2021). Incentives such as scholarships may be necessary to motivate students to stay in school.
Finally, preparation for the reoccurrence of large-scale closures is indispensable to the mission. Not only must we recover from the epidemic, but we must also use this experience to better prepare for future disasters. Countries must enhance their capacity to deliver mixed types of education in the future to achieve this goal (Robin Donnelly, 2021). Schools should be better equipped to move between face-to-face and online instruction as needed. This would safeguard children’s education not just in the event of future pandemics but also in the event of other shocks that may result in school closures, such as natural disasters or severe weather (Robin Donnelly, 2021). It will also open up possibilities for more personalized teaching and learning methodologies. With this in mind, an adaptable curriculum that may be taught in person or online will be required.
At the same time, the virus and quarantine accelerated the development of online education delivery systems and methodologies. Numerous agencies and public, private, and non-profit initiatives were launched to supply newly opened demand for new modes of communication, work, and learning (Goger, Parco, and Vegas, 2022). These modes range and include “dynamic learning and credentialing platforms, modularized courses with digital badging; artificial intelligence to suggest jobs or learning progressions; virtual reality training, interactive gamified courses or problem-solving activities, real-time assessments” (Goger et al., 2022). These new models are designed to supply high-quality professional education to those who were or are not able to access traditional means.
This is a fresh opportunity for individuals who have been left out of traditional educational and labor market institutions, and it is crucial to achieving the promise of digital credentials to enhance skills and career routes for everyone. The market was on the rise during the pandemic in 2019, reaching $18.66 billion; in 2021, it reached a point of 269.87 billion, with estimations projecting growth of up to $585.48 billion by 2027 (Globe News Wire, 2022). These numbers demonstrate that the previously underwhelming online learning opportunities have expanded to unprecedented highs, and the effects will continue to proliferate with humanity.
In conclusion, the estimations of incurred losses from the pandemic in the educational sector remain under evaluation. The prediction made by ADB state a possible loss of over a trillion US dollars. Therefore, the policies must be developed that will mitigate some of the losses. The most feasible approaches suggested by the world bank suggest protection of the educational budget, provision of support incentives, and preparation of repeated quarantine outcomes. Although individual losses are estimated to be high, the market of education has expanded into a new branch of e-learning. The depth of the new market projects continuous growth with the possibility of reaching over half of trillion US dollars. Thus, despite the overwhelmingly negative consequences, it is possible to foresee the development of new markets that will expand overall development in the sector.
Andrabi, T., Daniels, B., & Das, J. (2020). Human capital accumulation and disasters: Evidence from the Pakistan earthquake of 2005. Web.
Asian Development Bank (ADB). (2021). Learning and earning losses from covid-19 school closures in developing asia. Web.
Goger, A., Parco, A., & Vegas, E. (2022). The promises and perils of new technologies to improve education and employment opportunities. Web.
Globe News Wire. Global online education market (2022 to 2027). Web.
Robin Donnelly, H. (2021). The impact of covid-19 on education – recommendations and opportunities for Ukraine. Web.
Yamini, A. (2022). Education pandemic. IMF. Web.