By: Sonny Zulhuda
As students are expected to get back to schools soon, we all hope to see a light at the end of this long tunnel. But soon we will realise that things are not necessarily easier for us, especially the educators at school.
- Before the pandemic, 258 million children and youth of school age were out of school (World Bank).
- Due to Covid-19 pandemic, 1.38 billion students were impacted by school closures worldwide (UNESCO).
- Of the 10 immediate risks listed in World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2021, the one most likely to be overlooked is Youth disillusionment (WEF).
Students will come at a variety of conditions: different thirst to learning, different amount of stress, different capability to absorb leaning process, especially after having to go through many difficulties during the school closures.
With this background, I was invited to deliver my observations at the International Webinar held by the Postgraduate Programme, Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Raden Fatah, Palembang, Indonesia.
My talk was to generally highlight those situations. What is it that the educators at schools to expect when they receive and welcome students back in school? I highlight the experiences based on empirical researches in several countries: Canada, USA, Ireland, and Malaysia. Also some statistics I took from the World Bank, UNESCO as well as the World Economic Forum.
Educators should expect few things: Firstly, that students may be substantially behind academically due to the lost years; Secondly, students will restart with variable academic skills as some of them may acquire from home; Thirdly, there is a tendency of students to catch up and gain more after they are back; and fourthly, students may come with a variety of emotional pressures: food insecurity, reduced income, loss of family members, fear of virus. Educators need to understand these impacts and how to best support students’ social and emotional needs.
As Muslim educators, one should learn how to be a good responder, teacher and counselor at the same time, by relearning how Luqman taught his child (Luqman Ch. 31: 16-17).
Finally, I note at the end of my presentation the following remarks:
- Online learning to stay, but not as an emergency measure any more. Online learning to offer a meaningful alternative learning experience.
- Educators to play counsellors role: assessing the academic progress during lost years before coming back to school; further advisory role for career and further studies.
- Educators to play first-aid responder: detecting physical and mental health problems of students.
- Let’s make school a happy place (again)!
And here is the list of beautiful references that help me a lot (I hope readers find this useful):
- Dzulkifli Abdul Razak (2021). The Disruptive Futures of Education—Post-COVID-19 Pandemic. Ins. H. van’t Land et al. (eds.), The Promise of Higher Education, Springer, at https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-67245-4_60
- Marshall Garland, et.al. (2021). Concerns about child well-being during the 2020-21 school year were greatest among parents of remote learners, at https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2021/09/23/concerns-about-child-well-being-during-the-2020-21-school-year-were-greatest-among-parents-of-remote-learners/ (retrieved 29/09/2021).
- Megan Kuhfeld, et.al. (2020). Projecting the potential impacts of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement, EdWorkingPaper No. 20-226, at https://www.edworkingpapers.com/sites/default/files/ai20-226-v2.pdf (retrieved 29/09/2021).
- The World Bank Education (2020). The Covid-19 Pandemic: Shocks to Education and Policy Responses. The World Bank.
- The World Economic Forum (2021). Global Risks Report. The World Economic Forum.
- UNESCO (2021). Education: From disruption to recovery, at https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse#durationschoolclosures (retrieved 29/09/2021).
The slides of my presentation can be uploaded here.