School stops for no virus

Wednesday, 11 March, 2020

School stops for no virus

Schools are flocking to online education platforms as coronavirus impedes face-to-face learning.

Six-hundred-thousand teachers and 50 million students in China live-streamed their classes via Alibaba’s Dingtalk last month, while hundreds of thousands of students have taken to Google products such as Gmail, Drive, Classroom and Hangouts to connect with teachers and a further 100 schools across Asia and the Middle East have adopted Education Perfect’s platform to access and deliver classes.

The horde comes as 16 countries force nationwide school closures, affecting over 300 million students and another 16 implement localised closures.

“While temporary school closures as a result of health and other crises are not new, unfortunately, the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said.

The obstruction to education not only reduces instruction time, but could also impact students’ academic performance and enhance educational inequities, UNESCO explained in a press release.

The organisation is currently encouraging more schools to implement distance learning and has compiled a list of open educational resources to facilitate lessons across high- and low-tech environments. It also plans to develop a “community of practice” to “enhance knowledge sharing, peer learning and capacity building on distance and open learning”, it said in an article on its website.

“We are facing an unusual situation with a large number of countries affected by the same issue at the same time. We need to come together not only to address the immediate educational consequences of this unprecedented crisis, but to build up the longer-term resilience of education systems,” UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini said in the article.

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