The global problem of ensuring access to quality education for all is not new, and the education sector has been solving this problem ever since. The 2019 Sustainable Development Goals Report finds that one in five children between the age of 6 to 17 years old is still not attending school. With the COVID-19 pandemic added into the mix, it can aggravate the problem further.
As someone who values education and advocates for accessible and quality education for all, I find myself asking whether education should continue amid the pandemic and how would it look like in a post-COVID future. I introduced some of these questions in the previous piece I wrote. These are tough to answer especially when you see a developed country like South Korea facing more positive cases of COVID-19 again. South Korea, lauded for their innovative responses to the pandemic, closes their schools again after recording 79 new cases just a day after reopening. That was their highest daily figure in two months, the BBC News reports.
Participating in the virtual conference of the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) almost two weeks ago, I learned a couple of lessons about how the education ecosystem is responding to the pandemic. It was also insightful learning about how governments, organizations, and educational institutions are working together to ensure that the world moves forward to the new normal. With these collaborations, how might we take this opportunity to make our new normal a “better” normal?
“Access” is only one part of a bigger picture
In 2018, statistics of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) show that there are 258 million out-of-school children and youth around the world. This can be largely caused by a combination of other problems such as lack of income, hunger and malnutrition, spatial limitations, and even cultural barriers. And now because of COVID-19, we are seeing additional barriers created because of the technological divide. For education systems to recover, governments, development workers, leaders, and decision-makers…