(Transcript of Presentation Delivered at the NTA 2 Lagos Virtual Presentation on 9th September, 2020)
The COVID 19 pandemic brought with it major challenges. School closures being one of the most visible and controversial challenge which has and is still affecting young people. According to UNESCO, the education of nearly 1.6 billion students in 190 countries has so far been affected – that is 90% of the world’s school-age children.1 Other challenges our children faced is the attainment gap, Widening inequalities due to social class and Mental Health and Emotional concerns.
In spite of the challenges, one is also encouraged to look at some opportunities and achievements for children during the pandemic:
- Family Connections: COVID-19 left millions of parents working from home. And while there is only preliminary data on how parents may be dividing tasks at home during the pandemic, there’s no question that children are having more time at home with their parents. This scenario specifically increased the likelihood of more parents bonding with their children. The shift to remote learning, also meant that parents became more involved with their children’s learning and had a much better understanding of their children’s academic development.
- Increased awareness of global issues: Children were not left out in having this new perspective to life. In the past, we have had epidemics affecting just certain countries or certain parts of the world – but COVID became a phenomenon that linked the world. Young people now have a heightened awareness about global challenges. Not only about the health pandemic but also about social inequality, poverty, hunger and climate change. More children have a global outlook and are thinking beyond their borders.
- Health and Hygiene Consciousness: Children have become more conscious about their health, cleanliness, hygiene and keeping themselves and their environment germ-free. It is expected that these behavioural changes will become habits in the foreseeable future and promote more healthy living among our young people.
- Increased use and Technology Competence: The pandemic brought with it an accelerating shift to a digital world. During the lockdown we adapted quickly to new ways of working, new methods to engage with customers, our workforce, and the community. The move to remote learning delivery meant that many more children became exposed to hands on experiences with technology. Which is already preparing them for these new ways of workings.
- Alternative Learning Methods: The crisis also stimulated innovation within the education sector, with educators exploring Alternative Learning Methods. Not just standard learning management systems were at play but media like WhatsApp, radio, television and take-home packages. Distance learning solutions were developed thanks to quick responses by governments and global partners supporting education continuity. For our young people, this meant more fun and adventurous ways of learning. And lest we forget on a global scale, many providers of literary content made available free online access of their catalogues and materials to our young people during the period.
- Empathy and Kindness: One thing we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times. Everyone knows that adversity can bring out the best in people. With schools closed around the world, many young people are responding in innovative ways to show empathy and compassion for others.
While not discounting the challenges that the COVID 19 pandemic has brought, it is hoped that on a global level, we will be able to capitalise on opportunities the pandemic has exposed and ensure that they become mainstays for our young people.