Covid-19’s Impact on Education

Letters to Editor

By Bhavesh Agarwal, Class 10, Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai

We have been facing this Covid-19 pandemic for quite a while now. All sectors, especially non-essential ones have been adversely impacted by the global lockdown. In this article, I will talk about the effect of the worldwide lockdown on a sector that at least I deem essential, education. In today’s day and age, I do not need to explain the power of education. As technology develops and Artificial Intelligence becomes increasingly powerful, many hard manual labour jobs will vanish. There will be jobs, many new jobs created by new technology but only the well educated will be eligible for it. It is essential to learn hard skills because this shift is inevitable. Take the example of the Luddites, they were a group in England which opposed mechanisation in the textile industry and protested by destroying machinery. No doubt, it had an impact but if you look at a textile factory now, you would see that mechanisation continued, despite the protests. Also, education is an excellent tool for upward social mobility. For many poor households, sending a child to a good college on scholarship might be the only option to get out of poverty. If we look at history, we are living in a time full of opportunities. If you are determined, nothing is impossible.

However, you need to be educated. Knowledge truly is power. The gap between the rich and the poor was being bridged by education but due to this pandemic, we will face a major setback. Right now, in many parts of the world schools are taking classes online. Attending school online isn’t a very easy feat for everyone. You need a laptop and a stable internet connection. This may not seem like a very big demand but many poor households are unable to meet this. Effectively, what is happening is that the privileged are continuing with studies online but the poor are left behind due to a lack of resources. This is quite an unfortunate situation. We cannot simply deny somebody education if they have the resources and it is impossible for us to ensure during this pandemic every poor family can attend school digitally. What is the result? A gap, a huge one. So, what are our alternatives? Well, some countries are opening schools. Sure, this might be feasible in many developed countries wherein they have adequate resources to maintain the norms of social distancing and have a low teacher-student ratio. In fact, countries like Norway and Denmark have already re-opened schools. Again, developing countries which often also suffer from the massive problem of overpopulation are finding it difficult to do so. Not everybody can attend school online and safety cannot be ensured for everybody who attends physically. It really is a catch-22 situation for them and unfortunately, while the world is in lockdown I do not know what we can do about it.

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Bhavesh Agarwal Dhirubhai Ambani International School