The COVID-19 pandemic transformed human behavior, forever changing the way we interact with each other and with our environment. Education is no exception, as it quickly switched to classes for digital platforms and full virtual experience.
The Woman Post | Valentina Ibarra
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Adaptation has not been easy, particularly in places where the internet connection is not good, causing children to be unable to attend class. The fight for education dates back beyond the pandemic, as not all children had the opportunity to educate themselves independently. But, as this conjuncture continues, UNICEF projects that at least 10 million children worldwide will not return to school. This should be worrisome for society since we are experiencing a setback in the work for equality, literacy, and the rights of the child.
As countries try to open up to restore their economies, schools do not appear to be the highest priority. The decision to keep schools closed is not based on scientific issues, as different studies have shown that the spread of COVID-19 in schools is not as great as expected when the pandemic began. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, outbreaks in schools are not a prominent feature, due to how it is transmitted from child to child.
This does not mean that all educational institutions should open without adequate sanitary conditions, but the objective should be focused on implementing everything necessary to do so. It is easier to ensure the adequate distance between students and sinks than it is to give all the children of the world access to the Internet and a computer. The investment is necessary because the consequences of school closings will cause major setbacks for the younger generation. Furthermore, we cannot ignore that not all home conditions are the best for children. Domestic abuse is a horrible reality for children, and schools are sometimes places where they can find help. Without it, leaving violent environments can be more difficult for children.
Also, even with an Internet connection, not all children receive enough support at home to be successful in school. If everything opens except schools, parents go to work and leave children alone, without a suitable companion in their online classes. And, even if they can stay home, not all parents have the literacy skills to support their children in their educational process. Or, even if they do, they will need enough computers for each member of the household, which is not easy in every household. Virtual education is not easy for anyone, not even with sufficient Internet connection, because other factors affect the result.
Finally, it is impossible to ignore how this affects women differently. According to the Malala Foundation, other pandemics have shown that when schools close, girls are less likely to return. Due to domestic work, teenage pregnancy, and child marriage, women tend to drop out completely. As a society, we cannot allow this to happen. Schools should implement proper protocols to open as soon as possible, for the benefit of the younger generations.