In August, we convened a panel of education leaders and UWS team members to discuss the shape of the education landscape. They shared their insights into delivering lessons during school closures, the innovations across the sector and their hopes for the future of students around the globe. These are a few of the key points we took away from the webinar.

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There are a lot of challenges when it comes to distance learning in Myanmar

Dr Kay Khaing Win, UWS Myanmar Director, updated us on her team’s work continuing education during lockdown. For Kay, it hasn’t been as simple as Zoom lessons and virtual homework. Very few of the communities we work with have access to radios, phones or the internet. On top of this, ten different languages are spoken throughout the regions we work in and with no education themselves, parents are unable to homeschool their children. We’ve had to develop innovative methods to support children during this time, including socially distanced lessons via loudspeakers.

The longer vulnerable children are out of school the less likely they are to return

Those who were already disadvantaged before the pandemic are more likely to be left behind during Covid-19. Rebecca Curley, UWS Education and Inclusion Specialist, explained:

'Children with disabilities, children from ethnic and linguistic minorities and those from the poorest households are often the hardest hit. Disrupted learning and economic shock exposes vulnerable children to additional child protection risks. For example, as seen in the Ebola crisis, school closures led to higher rates of drop out for girls and a rise in teenage pregnancy and early marriages.'

There have been a wide range of innovations across the global education sector

Audrey Giacomini shared the main trends she has seen in her role at WISE:

  1. Many organisations have had to rapidly shift gear, focusing on health rather than education. At UWS, we quickly pivoted our approach in March to provide water, sanitation and public health support in the remote regions in which we work.
  2. The crisis has given many organisations the push they need to experiment with new innovations. On the flipside, some have been able to harness existing innovations and put them to use in new ways.
  3. Organisations, particularly EdTech companies, have begun to provide education resources for free making them more widely available than ever before.

The pandemic has provided a level playing field for teachers to get their voices heard.

Vikas Pota talked about his experience witnessing teachers excluded from decision making. Now, teacher voices are becoming more prominent as their role within communities becomes clearer. Vikas believes this is leading to a greater desire to hear teacher perspectives and include them in the conversations around global education.

The Global Teacher Status Index has shown us that the teaching profession isn’t highly regarded

In 2013, only in China were teachers seen as the same status as doctors. Vikas urged the audience to become greater advocates for teachers:

‘One of the responsibilities we have as common citizens of the world is to stop running down the profession. When was the last time you said thank you to a teacher?’

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the webinar. If you would like to receive the details of our upcoming events, please sign up to our newsletter here.

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