In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has changed how students are educated around the world. Those changes give us a glimpse at how education could change for the better – and the worse – in the long term.
Private no more?
All schools both in the public and private sector have adjusted in significant ways due to corona virus. One of the richer institutional private schools in the UK, Eton, which schooled our prime minister Boris Johnson along a lot of the ‘posh totties’ that start in the reality TV show Made in Chelsea, has offered 30% or more alongside financial aid, extended credit and future fee freezes. Independent schools are being faced with the reality that some may not return, and new recruits won’t join in the coming Autumn of 2020. The chief executive of independent schools state most independent schools in the UK are planning to shut unless they can find new owners or funding.
However, was this solely due to Covid-19? I can say from personal experience from going to an independent school from the age of 3-16, fees from students sometimes aren’t enough to cover costs of running a school especially in unexpected periods of uncertainty like the current climate. Two years after I left school in 2014, my independent school shut down due to being in a great amounts of debt with little funding and a reduction of new students year on year, which was alongside around 2 other private schools in the area at the time. With 50% of companies in the UK furloughing employees meaning a reduction in wages – will parents see the online learning worth the £4000 a term?
Classroom to cloud
Schools across the globe are having to restructure the way students are being educated. Unless you’re in University you won’t be used to the self-taught style of learning that you’re forced to adhere too. The question is – is online teaching just a substitute for face to face teaching or are we at a point where it’s a comparable or even better experience. Personally during my time at University I found I digested a lot more information through recorded online lectures than I would do in my face to face seminars and lectures. However, when I was lets say 13 – this would have not been the case.
Through the power of applications such as Microsoft teams and Zoom, there are new alternative ways to teach students. At a school in Lebanon students have begun online learning for all subjects even including physical education as students record and send over the videos of the athletic training and sports to their teachers as ‘homework’. However this is a stark reminder that the aim of education isn’t just to attain the best grades possible – it’s about socialising, having a shared space with peers in similar age groups and having a sense of community which unfortunately for people that are hermits regardless of the pandemic – technology can’t replicate.
Adapting to change
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of building resilience to face various threats, from pandemic disease to extremist violence to climate change and rapid technological change. The pandemic is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the skills students need in this unpredictable world such as informed decision making, creative problem solving, and most importantly – adaptability. To ensure those skills remain a priority for all students, resilience must be built into our educational systems post COVID-19.
How can students utilise this time?
Referring back to one of my previous articles which was around how conventional jobs such as lawyers and doctors are pushed onto us as the ‘appealing’ option’ in early education. Students can utilise this new-found free time to get creative with what their true interests are and research what the diverse range of jobs are out there for them- the opportunities are endless.
Written by Sophia Ghahramani