It is this time of year that children around the world are beginning to head back to school. For many, this will be their first close to normal school year since the 2018-2019 school year. On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization deemed the coronavirus a global pandemic and by month's end, schools around the world closed down. Now, over 900 days later, as students begin to return to school, the world is faced with the unprecedented issue of a global learning crisis. While we always knew that the pandemic's unnatural, virtual, & mixed education program that was forced upon communities would greatly impact students, only now are we beginning to get the benchmark results that reveal how vast the issue is. To take on this crisis will be a worldwide effort, requiring international collaboration and investment. Here are just a few things that we can do to support all students as we blaze a new trail.
Investing In Libraries
Whether it is a library, bookmobile, a library box, or other publicly accessible, free, book distributor, ensuring that all youth & students have access to physical books is crucial. While technology has expanded access to literature, promoting the healthy habit of screen time limits and instead reading physical books will help contribute to better health. That being said, it must be evaluated whether digital media is more beneficial to a given community.
Peer Tutor Programs
Peer tutor programs in schools & the community are a fantastic step to not only assist struggling students but it also provides leadership experience & helps build community. 30-40 relatively structured minutes are all you need for a productive tutoring session and it is important to have benchmarks to record progress.
Global Educational Resource Initiatives
There are already many networks that provide educational resources to select populations. However, the democratization of such a system would have a profound impact. Many students & adults have tools or methods that they use or used to assist in their learning. From mnemonics, to apps, to content creators, etc. , there are a vast quantity of educational resources that are free to access & that can be expanded. Online and in person campaigns that urge the worldwide community to share their tips & tricks, their systems, their skills, would be a relatively simple but great step to promote collaboration in learning.
For countries & areas that don't have year round school, one issue that contributes to the overall crisis is called the "summer slide". This is the loss of learning the occurs while students are on summer break due to lack of instruction. One way that this can be addressed is providing voluntary educational activities throughout the summer that keep students brains learning while having fun. There are many ways to make learning fun. While we should always seek to try to make learning as applicable and interactive as possible, in a summer program it is even more crucial to make it fun to keep learners engaged. Some activities could be: an egg drop project, bottle rockets, scavenger hunt, games that require counting such as dice games, history walks, etc. .
While the pandemic did hold learning back, we now have the greatest accessibility to educational infrastructure ever. From apps, to counseling, to new knowledge, we have a whole new learning toolbox at our disposal. It is with investing and utilizing these tools & collaborating that we can address the learning crisis. We must all work together as a society to rebuild and blaze a new trail for education. A trail where no student is left behind & where everyone lends a hand in helping each other learn. I ask that we go into this together so that we can emerge together, greater than ever. Education is a human right and improving our systems for education is simply the right thing to do.
Matthew, USA, 17