How did the pandemic affect and impact the education sector?

By Anirodal Rai

               The world had to face a new difficulty that no one was prepared for with a new surge of coronavirus cases uprising in many different fields, sectors, and parts of the countries. Due to that, most of the countries had to go through lockdown for an extensive period causing panic and disrupting the world. Many Businesses, Travel, Trade, Health care, housing, and other sectors were affected by it, and they had to face the consequences and adopt alternative ways of running their sectors respectively and smoothly. 

             Among them, Education sectors also took a major hit making the students, teachers, and the learners unable to attend in-person lectures and sessions and were severely affected by the ongoing crises, forcing them to come up with new ways and ideas of learning and educating among themselves while also following the health guidelines provided by the government encouraging learners to socially distance and self-isolate with their own families and household individuals. In the meantime, most governments decided to temporarily close educational institutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. On 12th of January 2021, approximately 825 million learners are currently affected due to school closures in response to the pandemic. According to UNICEF monitoring, 23 countries are currently implementing nationwide closures and 40 are implementing local closures, impacting about 47 percent of the world’s student population. 112 countries’ schools are currently open.

The Positive and Negative Impacts of Remote Learning

Positive Impacts:-

          With the announcement of lockdown on 23rd of March 2020, The students and teachers had to find an innovative way of communicating and learning through remote learning so to provide those services, they began navigating through software like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and other online conference software. They gained popularity and familiarity over a recent couple of months to make learning more accessible and as creative as possible.It gave them more freedom and flexibility for breaks and a slower pace in learning to match their abilities and provide them with better explanations from pre-recorded videos or presentations within the sessions which helped them to figure out to solve problems and issues independently or something they didn’t fully understand within the online class. It also gave them enough time to enjoy or relax either by themselves, with their families, or members of the household and became more involved with them. 

          Both the students and teachers got the chance to destress and take care of their own personal well-being to some extent. In their free time, they utilised their time in other resources like learning a new skill, joining, or applying for new courses, reading and gathering knowledge from books, magazines, radio shows, podcasts, or any other types of technologies, and investing their skills for newer projects. They received the motivation they needed to pursue other creative aspects as well as grow their experience in learning.


Negative Impacts:-

        There were some good impacts during the pandemic but there were also some bad impacts because of the lockdown. Distant learners needed to ensure that their home computers meet the software and hardware requirements for courses. Unfortunately, the quick pivot to online learning didn’t account for those without access to such technology. Additionally, learners of all ages had a frustrating experience when residing in rural areas with low bandwidth. Successfully navigating multiple platforms, completing assignments, and getting help through video conferencing are all highly dependent on a solid internet connection.

         Other reports were also accounted for where there was a high rise of health-related issues which directly affected the mental well-being of the students and teachers being unable to interact and communicate face-to-face and force themselves into isolation, some had to face and endure the extreme amount of stress, anxiety, and depression while some had self-harm and suicidal thoughts. It also slowed the productivity level of the people and some even struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with other people because it got into the way of their own personal and academic responsibilities. There are some links to the following showcasing more articles, statistics, and reports to support the thesis: –

Pieces of Advice

              As we began 2022, it was announced that the schools and colleges would resume “face-to-face learning” on 4th of January, going back to traditional teaching environments. These are the following steps and measures to be followed while also keeping themselves safe:- 

  •   The students, teachers, and learners are strongly advised to continue to take a rapid LFD test at least twice a week and especially if they will be in a higher risk situation such as a crowded and enclosed space.
  •   They should record and report the result of their rapid LFD test every time they take a test and irrespective of the test result. Information on how to report a Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test result can be found on the UK Government website.
  •   If an individual has symptoms of Covid-19, has tested positive for coronavirus, they must self-isolate immediately and follow Government advice. Anyone identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 must also follow the relevant Government advice.
  •   They are also strongly urged to receive the coronavirus vaccine (first and second doses) and booster vaccine if they are eligible to do so.
  •   If an individual is suffering from any kind of mental health issues, they should talk and console with their school/college counsellor to take better care of themselves.
  •   If they don’t have or provide school/ college counselling, then confide or speak to their family members or household individuals to get proper care of their well-being.
  •   They can also contact their GP or NHS to get appointments with their doctors or professionals within their area.
  •   There are several other ways of contacting helplines to provide advice and guidelines related to mental health with the following links: –