Reimagining education in the aftermath of the pandemic
2.3 million learners are impacted by school closures and a national lockdown in Jordan due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The number includes 230,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan. Even before the pandemic, Jordan’s education system was under great pressure to provide quality education; with poor infrastructure, low basic literacy and numeracy levels, combined with older methods of instruction, violence and bullying. This has resulted in heightened levels of frustration among students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and educators even with enormous funds and support provided by the international community
Since the pandemic, there have been great efforts to move to online platforms. Many of these efforts involve engaging learners, educators, and parents in new ways using some form of technology. This includes creating partnerships with the private sector to digitalize lessons and establishing digital infrastructure in rural areas which will help over 16% of the students in Jordan who lack internet access; 16 percentage points below the OECD average.
I feel optimistic that after the pandemic ends, there will be lots to learn from and builds upon.
One thing is the appreciation and the recognition for teachers and the role of school that has been underestimated for years. Parents are more appreciative as they struggle to work with their children at home. Educators became heroes and heroines doing the best they can to deliver lessons, even with limited resources and limited skills in using advanced technology.
We can also see the serious efforts to empower parents to take an active role in their children’s learning and gain skills that are involved in teaching. On the other hand, online learning has made it possible for educators to be more comfortable in using different technologies and to improve their skills, which leads to improved learning for students. It is very important to maintain this relation with parents after the reopening of schools. It is also important to establish more partnerships with different sectors so schools become centers for ongoing learning and community engagement.
It has always been the case that many public schools focus on academic subjects and the core interest is to pass and score high in exams. Once schools reopen, we need to reconsider this focus. I think schools can be a place to develop skills needed for future work and employment, a place to connect, communicate, practice different skills, and learn how to think critically. Students should learn at their own pace subjects that can be delivered online. There is no need to be locked in class rooms for hours to learn subjects that already exist online.
Amid the chaos, it may be hard to see the bright side, but for me this transition is needed to establish more creative and sustainable education reform.
Karam Hayef – Jordan
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 30