Global education challenges and strategies during pandemics (2)


Many countries in Asia were concerned about likely actualisation of the relationship between immediate school re-openings and possibility of second wave of COVID-19 in the region. To avoid setbacks, Mr. Hossein Salar Amoli, Iran’s Acting Minister for International Scientific Co-operation, suggested the need for school closures to be extended; and to be re-opened during the new academic year in September 2020. He noted the re-openings should be contingent on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, gradual re-opening could commence with learners at the tertiary level while each country’s progress in recovery from the pandemic was monitored.

The foregoing notwithstanding, Mr. Amoli affirmed the need for distance and online learning methods to be adopted and implemented for the rest of the 2020 academic year. As of 24th March, 2020, nationwide school closures were in effect while school fees were being refunded to families in Japan. However, few months later, the Japanese government, through the Assistant Minister of Education, Mami Omaya, announced gradual re-opening of schools and determination of dates for various examinations in the country. Decisions related to the foregoing were contingent on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. Planned re-openings were expected to be guided by thorough recommendations on safety and health measures and protocols (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

The Minister of Education for Lebanon, Mr. Tarek Al Maizoub, noted the socio-economic crisis necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country was unprecedented. As a result, re-opening of schools in the country was to be carried out in phases while tapping new ideas to assure success. Mr. Al Maizoub believed the outbreak of COVID-19 was a defining moment for various countries and territories to embrace and facilitate the promotion of global educational solidarity that is resilient and robust in character (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

However, on Tuesday, 4th August, 2020, the people of Lebanon were saddled with an unpleasant socio-economic news. The news entailed two massive explosions of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the port of the city of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital. The explosions, which were detected by the United States Geological Survey, were felt in some parts of Europe, Northern Israel, Turkey and Syria. The explosions were measured as a seismic event with 3.3 and 4.5 local magnitudes by the United States Geological Survey and the Jordan Seismological Observatory, respectively.

There were widespread agitations about the repercussions of the explosions on the Lebanese economy; it was believed the explosions could significantly affect the prospects for economic recovery. The explosions re-ignited protests, which began in October 2019, calling for the resignation of the government, citing incompetence, negligence and corruption as the principal factors for the outrage (BBC, 2020b&c).

The massive shock wave, which ensued the explosions shook the ground across Beirut, overturned cars, and damaged buildings. In the swathe of Beirut, many people were compelled to live in severely damaged homes, mostly without doors or windows or both. A representative of the International Red Cross Committee described the needs of the victims as colossal. The extent of damage caused by the explosions to the two main electricity and water stations in Beirut was very monumental.

Affected victims were in dire need of food, shelter, cleaning detergents, and assistance to clean major debris and leftovers in their homes. Efforts to rescue victims in the Beirut explosions were strained by the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had already stretched existing medical facilities in the capital and in some parts of the country. Major treatment centres were severely affected by the explosions (Nature, 2020).

The explosions in Beirut resulted in two hundred and twenty (220) deaths and over six thousand (6,000) injuries. More than one hundred and ten (110) people were reported missing while over three hundred thousand (300,000) people were rendered homeless (BBC, 2020b&c). The explosions complicated the already existing power and water crises in Lebanon. As a result, the country was rationing power daily. This compelled many people to purchase generator sets to complement supply from the national grid. Prior to the explosions, the country was embroiled in a major economic downturn; the economic situation was exacerbated by the explosions, pushing more families into the hunger and poverty brackets. The challenges compelled the United Nations agencies to warn of humanitarian crisis in the country unless aid, in the forms of food and medicine, was delivered swiftly to victims in affected areas (Nature, 2020).

In response to the tragic explosions, 5th August, 2020 was declared a national day of mourning while the Lebanese government declared a state-of-emergency for two consecutive weeks. President Aoun noted the government’s preparedness to provide the requisite support for displaced persons, the Ministry of Health’s readiness to bear the cost of treatment for all injured persons, and the government’s commitment of 100 billion Lebanese pounds (equivalent to US$66million) in aid to support recovery operations. The Lebanese Red Cross Society (LRCS) noted the dispatch of every available ambulance from the southern and northern parts of the country to Beirut to rescue patients.

The LRCS was able to activate 375 medics and 75 ambulances in response to the explosions. In the absence of a state-sponsored clean-up exercise, local business moguls offered to repair damaged buildings at no cost to beneficiaries; and debris in affected buildings were removed by volunteers. On 5th August, 2020, Hezbollah launched a blood donation campaign in the country. Individuals willing to donate blood were offered free ride to and from blood donation centres and hospitals by Careem, a ride-sharing app in Lebanon.

Financial supports offered by Denmark (€20million), Norway (€6.5million), United States (US$15million), Germany (€11.5million), European Union (€63million), and the United Kingdom (£25million) were expected to help Lebanon address most of her socio-economic challenges emanating from the explosions. The support was envisaged to help the country address some of the teething difficulties introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate supports from France and Spain were not financial; France provided medical and food aid and pledged to provide materials needed for reconstruction while Spain provided medical supplies, shelters and wheat.

The blasts left Lebanon with two critical needs: rebuilding of infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, electricity and water treatment plants; and emergency humanitarian aid, including shelter, water, food and medicine. There was a common consensus among global leaders at the virtual summit organised to solicit funds for the country. That was the need for the Lebanese Government to improve on the perceived levels of corruption; accelerate economic reforms and accountability; and the need for the assistance to be channelled directly to the Lebanese population in the most transparent and efficient manner (BBC, 2020b&c). The explosions, which were described by some analysts as tragic and one of the major accidents in the annals of global industrial history, complicated challenges related to successful organisation of educational programmes in the country at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Madam Sengdeuane Lachanthaboune, the Minister of Education for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, indicated gradual re-opening of schools in the country was expected to commence on 18th May, 2020. The re-opening was expected to commence with learners in various grades preparing for pending examinations before extending the re-opening to all academic institutions few weeks later. However, the country expected to maintain arrangements for distance and online learning through technological platforms, radio and television while preventive measures, such as physical and social distancing, wearing of masks and body temperature measurements, were to be strictly enforced and implemented respectively (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

Re-opening strategies in Europe

Madam Lucia Azzolina, Italy’s Minister of Education, minced no words when she affirmed the indispensable role of education in the nation’s recovery process from COVID-19, and the role of education in the development of quality human capital to provide the requisite technical advice, guidance and direction to assure rapid national economic transformation in post COVID-19 period. Given the precarious nature of the pandemic crisis in the country, the Italian Government extended school re-opening date to September 2020. The decision was born out of recommendations of the scientific committee, monitoring of distance and online learning activities, and broader consultation with other key stakeholders in education. Madam Azzolina noted the Italian Government’s decision on school re-opening was based on evidence.

The Italian Government, through its Ministry of Education, encouraged young graduates to join the teaching profession. The Education Ministry planned to organise massive remedial classes at the beginning of the 2021 academic year to help learners offset any academic loss that might have arisen from the long academic break. To this end, the Education Ministry was expected to hire 2,400 additional teachers to augment the population of instructors in the country. The coronavirus pandemic truncated the academic calendar in France and many other countries and territories across the globe. In Vietnam, Spain and Republic of Korea, similar arrangements were considered; the respective academic calendars were adjusted to make up for the number of learning days lost to the coronavirus pandemic (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

Akin to the Italian Government’s strategy, the French Government, through its Education Minister, Mr. Jean-Michel Blanquer, announced a gradual approach to re-opening of schools across the country starting from 11th May, 2020. The non-uniformity of re-opening of schools in France was attributed to variations in the number of reported cases and deaths across regions. Thus, re-opening was expected to commence gradually in areas least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the French Government introduced flexibility and options; parents were at liberty to either send their children or wards back to school or allow them to stay at home to continue with distance and online learning programmes introduced earlier to minimise the sporadic effect of COVID-19 on the country’s academic calendar and programmes.

Precautionary measures adapted for implementation included health and safety guidelines for all schools and limit to the number of learners in each classroom. As part of the measures, Mr. Blanquer noted learners would be divided into different seating arrangements while the curricula to be adapted and implemented at various levels would consider the limited number of weeks left to end the current academic year. In Croatia, re-opening of schools was expected to be rolled out gradually. Gradual re-opening was envisaged to commence on 11th May, 2020, with parents being key stakeholders. The Croatian Government allowed parents to finally determine whether or not their wards should return to school (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

Re-opening strategies in South America

Many countries in South America, including Costa Rica, Peru and Argentina, were indifferent to postponement of re-opening dates for schools. However, they were concerned about the growing levels of academic inequality engendered by the protracted COVID-19 pandemic. In Costa Rica, strict physical and social orders were still under implementation while standardised tests organised at the national level had been cancelled during the research period. Madam Melania Brenes, Costa Rica’s Vice Minister of Education, noted the country was monitoring key areas to mitigate potential school dropouts in the country. The country was yet to announce tentative dates for re-opening of schools. As of 1st June, 2020, Costa Rica ranked 114th among 213 countries and territories with reported cases of COVID-19.

The respective numbers of reported cases and deaths in Costa Rica during the period were 1,056 and 669. This translated into a national case fatality rate of about 63.35 percent ((669 deaths ÷ 1,056 reported cases) x 100% = 0.6335227 x 100% = 63.35227 = 63.35%), which was about 10.61 times (63.35% ÷ 5.97% = 10.611390 = 10.61 times) the global average (5.97 percent) during the period. The figures suggested Costa Rica’s responsiveness and containment measures were not strong enough to mitigate the carnage inflicted on Costa Ricans by the predatory coronavirus pandemic.

The results implied about 64 of 100 reported cases in Costa Rica resulted in deaths, one of the staggering ratios recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Available data on the total number of reported cases and deaths in Costa Rica did not support re-opening of schools in the immediate term. Thus, the government’s decision to postpone re-opening indefinitely and to be more concerned about growing levels of academic inequality in deprived and rural areas during the research period were in order.

The challenges and ‘aftermath’ of COVID-19 compelled the Ecuadoran Government to draw an important conclusion on education in the country. That was to ensure significant paradigm shift from the ‘customary’ teaching and learning practices to the urgent need to strengthen distance and online learning as a permanent means of providing quality education to learners in Ecuador.

Consequently, COVID-19 impelled the Ecuadoran Government and policy-makers in education to appreciate and integrate online learning into their national academic programmes. This initiative was expected to help minimise the extent of disruption and adverse effects of future epidemics and pandemics on the country’s academic calendar and programmes. Gradual re-opening of schools in the country was envisaged to be guided by interactions among instructors, learners and parents; and provision of support when needed.

Available statistics on COVID-19 from Worldometer (2020b) revealed Ecuador had one of the highest numbers of reported cases in South America and across the globe during the research period. As of 1st June, 2020, Ecuador ranked 24th globally and 4th in South America, with respective total reported cases and deaths of 39,098 and 3,358. This implied a case fatality ratio of 8.59 percent ((3,358 deaths ÷ 39,098 reported cases) x 100% = 0.085887 x 100% = 8.5887 = 8.59%), which was about 1.44 times the global average. However, the total number of recovered cases (19,592) was more than the total active cases (16,148). One could infer the interventions in Ecuador were working effectively as the government strove to assure containment, and to minimise further spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

In Peru, the respective total numbers of reported cases and deaths during the period were 164,476 and 67,208, implying a case fatality ratio of about 40.86 percent ((67,208 deaths ÷ 164,476 reported cases) x 100% = 0.4086189 x 100% = 40.86189 = 40.86%). The results suggested about 41 of 100 reported cases in Peru resulted in deaths, one of the overwhelming ratios recorded in the region and across the globe at the outset and during the peak of the pandemic outbreak.

In terms of the total number of reported cases, Peru ranked 10th globally and 2nd in South America during the period. Between 24th May, 2020 and 1st June, 2020, Peru reported additional 48,722 cases (164,476 reported cases – 115,754 reported cases = 48,722 additional cases), and transitioned from the 12th to 10th position in the global rankings. The relatively high case fatality rate (40.86 percent) supported the Peruvian Government’s decision not to announce dates for re-opening of schools during the research period.

Mr. Martin Benavides, the Peruvian Minister of Education, was equally concerned about the increasing levels of academic disparity between urban learners and learners domiciled in the rural parts of the country during school closures. Lack of computers and Internet facilities served as a major setback to equal access to distance and online learning in most rural communities. Mr. Benavides expressed Peru’s readiness to tap from the experiences of other countries to plan its re-opening process (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South America kept surging during the period. For instance, Argentina reported additional 5,498 cases (16,851 reported cases – 11,353 reported cases = 5,498 additional cases); and the total number of deaths increased from 445 to 539 between 24th May, 2020 and 1st June, 2020. As of 30th April, 2020, Argentina had not set dates for re-opening of schools. While monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Argentine Government focused attention on the adaption and implementation of practical measures to ensure uninterrupted learning. These measures included learning through radio, television, provision and use of textbooks as well as digital resources.

As of 24th May, 2020, cases of COVID-19 had been reported in two hundred and thirteen (213) countries and territories across the globe. Colombia ranked 36th globally with respective total number of 20,177 reported cases and 705 deaths (Worldometer, 2020b). The country’s case fatality rate during the period was equivalent to 3.49 percent ((705 deaths ÷ 20,177 reported cases) x 100% = 0.03494077 x 100% = 3.494077 = 3.49%).

However, this was more than the case fatality rate (3.20 percent) recorded on 1st June, 2020 though the respective numbers of reported cases (29,383) and deaths (939) increased during the period. The increase in the number of deaths (234) was proportionately less than the increase in the number of reported cases (9,206). The latter was significant as it represented about 45.63 percent increase in total reported cases during the period. This explained why the case fatality rate (3.20 percent) as of 1st June, 2020 was less than the rate (3.49 percent) reported earlier on 24th May, 2020.

The country ranked 31st globally as of 1st June, 2020, had recorded 19,901 active cases, and 8,543 recovered. Perhaps, the wave and trend of the coronavirus pandemic in Colombia accounted for the government’s decision to resort to gradual re-opening of schools. However, the data did not depict improvement in the containment measures by the Colombian Government during the period.

To achieve set objectives and minimise adverse effects, Madam Maria Victoria Angulo, the Colombian Minister of Education, announced her country’s preparedness to focus attention on the rural communities to ensure non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social and physical distancing, were effectively implemented. Colombia intended to implement different evaluation models for learners while digital applications were developed for instructors to help address issues related to academic and socio-emotional challenges of learners.

The sporadic increase in the number of reported cases in the South American region confirmed earlier warnings by the World Health Organisation about Africa, Eastern Europe, Central and South America being the novel “hot spots” for the coronavirus pandemic; and the likelihood of these hot spots recording significant increase in number of reported cases if the levels of preparedness and responsiveness in their respective countries and territories were not strong enough to stem the negative tide of COVID-19.

One of the major concerns of key stakeholders was the ravaging effect of COVID-19 on the world’s ability to assure education characterised by quality, equity and inclusion. During the research period, the Office of the International Educational Planning Institute situated in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, was responsible for co-ordination and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Latin American Region by 2030. On 29th April, 2020, the institute organised an online seminar to discuss the relationship among school, healthcare and family. The seminar involved seven hundred and twenty-five (725) participants drawn from Europe (France and Portugal), Africa; and South America, in addition to two hundred (200) real-time participants.

Discussions were focused on how effective planning could mitigate the adverse impact of COVID-19 on equity and inclusion in education; and the effect on realisation of the SDGs. The seminar sought to affirm the significance of timely educational planning and to identify strategic ways through which UNESCO and other key stakeholders in various jurisdictions could plan to make education accessible to all in both ‘ordinary’ and ‘crisis’ contexts while improving on existing academic structures to conform to international standards. Development of technical capabilities and consistent training emerged as essential ‘tools’ to sustain education and ensure quality and inclusion in crisis context, such as COVID-19, and to propel education in the 21st century and beyond.

Re-opening strategies in North America

Measures adapted by the Mexican Government for implementation to mitigate adverse effects of COVID-19 on the nation’s academic calendar included the televised broadcasts of education programmes to the nook and cranny of the country, radio broadcasts of education programmes in fifteen (15) different languages in areas not accessible to television, and provision of free textbooks to all learners. The priority of the Mexican Government during school closures was maintaining a strong bond among instructors, learners and parents. This was consistent with the strategy adapted by the Ecuadoran Government aimed at strengthening the relationship between parents, learners and instructors during and after school closures.

The Mexican Government did not announce her intention to re-open schools during the research period. This decision might have been born out of the rapid rate of reported cases and deaths in the United States (1,837,170 reported cases; and 106,195 reported deaths as of 1st June, 2020) and spread of COVID-19 in Mexico during the research period. For instance, in about a week – between 24th May, 2020 and 1st June, 2020 – the total number of confirmed cases in Mexico increased from 65,856 to 90,664, representing about 37.67 percent increase during the period.

The case fatality rate in Mexico as of 1st June, 2020 was equivalent to 10.95 percent, was slightly more than the rate (10.90 percent) recorded early on 24th May, 2020. The need for long-term perspective while acknowledging the complexities of school re-openings was reiterated by Madam Giannini. She stressed the need for UNESCO member-countries to work collaboratively and assiduously to enhance existing education systems and make them more resilient while bracing up for possible academic challenges that may arise in the near or distant future.

While re-opening of schools was being considered in some countries, nationwide school closures were taking effect in the United States during the research period. As of 10th April, 2020, schools in the District of Columbia, all the five inhabited territories, and most schools in the fifty (50) states were closed. In all, about one hundred and twenty-four (124) private and public schools were closed across the United States during the period. The school closures affected over 55.1 million learners. However, the school closures varied slightly; three territories and twenty-one (21) states announced school closures for the remainder of the academic year while adaption and implementation of distance and online learning as alternatives to learning in the physical classroom environment were strongly considered.

However, the implementation of distance and online learning platforms was fraught with challenges; stakeholders raised legitimate concerns about how special needs learners could be accommodated. Further, they raised concerns about the issue of learners’ absenteeism, access to computers and the Internet to facilitate learners’ active participation and socio-academic benefits from distance and online learning platforms. School closures emanating from the coronavirus pandemic were believed to be unprecedented in the United States; prior pandemics did not necessitate such massive school closures across the country. Disruptions in academic programmes by COVID-19 compelled school authorities in the United States to review and adjust requirements for graduation and grading scales. For instance, in spring 2020, the pass/fail grading system implemented by many institutions of higher learning was suspended.

Intervening measures introduced by the United States Department of Education to alleviate the plight of learners from the ‘academic skirmishes’ of COVID-19 were helpful. These included approval for College Board’s replacement of traditional face-to-face Advance Placement Examination with an online examination, rescheduling of the ACT Examinations from April 2020 to June 2020, and cancellation of the SAT tests slated for March 2020 and May 2020. The novel arrangement allowed for the latter examination to be accessed and taken by learners from home. This was consistent with the alternative examination arrangements implemented in China at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Further, states were allowed to opt out of standardised testing mandated by the Act on Every Student Succeeds. In the states of Washington and Florida, state testing for the 2019-2020 academic year was cancelled. The foregoing was consistent with measures taken by countries such as Vietnam, Japan, France, Spain, China and Chile to reschedule or cancel national assessments and examinations for learners at all levels of the academic strata.

In Thailand and Japan, modification of dates for certain national examinations was found to be very challenging; learners’ participation in the examinations on the pre-determined date was inevitable. As a result, special arrangements were made to assure the health and safety of learners who participated in the examinations. This included limiting the number of learners who could sat for the examinations at a time (UNESCO, 2020b; Chang & Yano, 2020).

Guatemala introduced innovative measures, including the provision of guidelines to teachers and learning materials to caregivers and parents. These allowed continued interaction between instructors and learners offline. Comparatively, authorities in China allowed caregivers and parents to access pedagogical support online to facilitate learning among school children at home. Spain and Italy organised online courses for caregivers and parents, so the latter could ensure effective management of relationship with learners during school closures and lockdowns.

Spain developed and established apps and communication platforms, so the learning process could be co-built and shared among instructors, caregivers and parents. In the wake of COVID-19, the ‘academic burden’ imposed on caregivers and parents by home and distance learning was found to be heavy. Many caregivers and parents assumed the new role of ‘academic instructors’ at home, a role most were not prepared for. Most caregivers and parents struggled to combine learning supervision and routine house chores.

Caregivers and parents with limited formal education and those who completed their formal education several years ago and had not been ‘revising’ their early ‘school notes’ had challenges assisting their wards during the school closures and lockdown periods. However, some of these caregivers and parents were ‘rescued’ by their older children who had formal education; the latter facilitated learning process of their younger siblings (Chang & Yano, 2020).

Learners from some families in the United States relied on food served in schools for daily sustenance. However, effective and full implementation of requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture for school lunch during the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge. To ensure affected learners from deprived families were not denied the routine food supply, the United States Department of Agriculture waived many requirements, and special arrangements were made by several states and districts for lunch bags to be distributed on ‘grab-and-go’ bases.

Further, pick-up of meals in bulk to limit the frequency of return and physical contact was encouraged in some districts. An alternative to the foregoing arrangement was the delivery of meals to learners through designated school bus routes. Similar arrangements were replicated in Argentina and Japan to ensure learners from deprived families were saved from food starvation. In China, learners who were compelled to stay in isolation in their respective schools at the outset and peak of the COVID-19 pandemic were constantly supplied with food. Authorities in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in Spain issued redeemable credit cards to vulnerable children, so they could access nutritious meals from commercial food establishments (Chang & Yano, 2020).

Training and licensing of teachers

The current work revealed education ministries and school authorities in many countries across the globe had embraced the concept of teacher training and licensing as prerequisites for employment and appointment to public elementary and secondary schools. The severity of COVID-19 disrupted scheduled teacher training and dates for teacher licensing examinations in many countries. To ease the negative impact of COVID-19 on the foregoing, affected countries identified and implemented alternative measures. In the United Arab Emirates, novel technological arrangements were instituted to provide continuous specialised training for teaching and administrative staff on online basis. Similar arrangements were made in Chile to allow teachers and administrators who were deficient in digital skills training to improve on their deficiencies.

The Chilean Government ensured webinars were organised regularly while teachers were encouraged to share good teaching methods and practices. Authorities in China postponed teacher qualification examinations while some training courses were made available online for already-qualified teachers due for refresher courses and continuous professional development. The coronavirus pandemic affected teachers’ ability to renew their teaching licenses in Japan. To mitigate the portentous effect of the pandemic on the teaching profession, the Japanese Government issued temporary licenses to teachers who could not participate in the license renewal training. Issuance of the temporary certificate to teachers was on case-by-case basis (Chang & Yano, 2020).

One of the significant educational desiderata that resonated throughout the write-up was the need for the availability of reliable, accurate and valid data to facilitate decisions on providing support for learners, and developing curricula that meet teaching and learning needs of contemporary times in post-pandemic era. Access to reliable and accurate data to facilitate development, adaption and implementation of practical educational policies in post-pandemic period would help various countries and territories to equip themselves academically to withstand the rumbling tests of future epidemics and pandemics on education.

Training and licensing could help countries and territories maintain research-oriented instructors to facilitate data collection and analysis in critical periods, such as pandemic era. Indeed, the academic challenges emanating from COVID-19 compelled advanced, emerging and developing economies to review their existing academic structures and media of instructions.

Generally, access to appropriate learning materials remained a challenge to many learners across the globe. Socio-economic inequality was identified as a major barrier to the successful implementation of distance and online learning programmes in many countries across the globe. To ease the challenge, it was imperative for less-endowed learners to be provided with the requisite technological assistance, including access to the Internet and computers to ease their inclusion and active participation in organised distance and online learning programmes.

Mathematics and reading emerged as some of the major subjects that posed ‘threats’ to learners at various academic levels. The study revealed learners at various levels often struggle to cope with these two important subjects. Well-trained instructors could facilitate learners’ ability to develop strong interests in the hitherto ‘uninteresting’ subjects, such as mathematics and reading.

During the peak COVID-19 outbreak, UNESCO was expected to live up to its international responsibility. That is to collect, analyse and share policy measures rolled out and implemented by member-countries, and to advise and encourage member-countries that were ill-prepared for the learning and academic challenges during the pandemic period. Beyond COVID-19, effective assumption of the afore-mentioned role by UNESCO could serve as an impetuous to member-countries; it could assist in critical decision-making, facilitate continuity in learning, and encourage member-countries to uphold the fundamental principles of equity and equality in education.

Author’s note

This write-up was extracted from an earlier publication titled ‘Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Global Education’ by Ashley (2022) in the International Journal of Business and Management.

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