A Reflection on COVID-19 and the Education Sector

The countries around the world are adjusting to a new reality.  COVID-19 altered every aspect of our lives in the way governments, businesses, and communities are operating. This pandemic is a health crisis that has had an immense impact on the education system not only here in Uganda but also worldwide, over 1.5 billion students have been forced out of universities and schools. COVID-19 offers an important reflection point for education leaders to question the status quo and explore new approaches for delivering quality education to millions of children.

Can Uganda and the global education community use this moment as an opportunity to “reawaken” the Sector to meet the demands of the future?

COVID-19 pandemic is not only the crisis that is disrupting the education sector. Globally the education sector was already crippling with another crisis and that is the learning crisis. I have identified two main dimensions of the Learning Crisis.

  • The poor learning outcomes.
  • The Learners arrive unprepared to learn, Teachers often lack the skills or motivations to teach effectively Inputs often fail to reach classrooms or to affect learning and poor management and governance that undermine schooling quality.

If one can put the learning crisis in context, many learners around the world are not learning to read proficiently, the majority of the learners in schools are not acquiring fundamental skills and not forgetting the millions who are not out of school. Without foundational learning, learners are failing to thrive in school and later when they join the workforce.

With the spread of COVID-19 the education system is facing a new crisis. Uganda like many countries worldwide decided to close universities, colleges’ and schools following the world health organization (WHO) guidelines (Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation) to cab down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period 15 million learners are affected. Isn’t this a dilemma to the policymakers?

This short-term disruption has given rise to rarely used or forgotten concepts like homeschooling. The homeschooling concept is all about forming close and loving bonds between parents and children and between siblings. With the homeschooling, the parents are the primary influence over their children’s development, rather than a group of peers who have the same or less maturity level than the child.

This homeschooling has not only had a massive shock to parents. The majority thought that the children were sent home to play. But the whole idea is that they continue their education at home, in the hope of not missing out too much. Many are moving the teaching, student assessments online, with a lot of trial and error and uncertainty for everyone. These interruptions brought by COVID-19 will not just be a short-term issue, but will have long-term consequences for the affected cohorts and most likely to increase inequality.  Going to school is the best public policy tool that is in place to raise skills. School time is fun. This is where learners acquire social skills and awareness. From an economic point of view being in school increases the learner’s ability. This school closer could have consequences on skills growth. So can we estimate how much the COVID-19 interruption will affect learning? Not very precisely, as we are in a new normal; I propose an in-depth study to get an order of magnitude.


Wasike David

Lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Management International University of East Africa (IUEA), PhD Candidate Business Administration Uganda Martyrs University (UMU)-Kampala

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