COVID impact: In 50 countries, classes have not gone offline yet

Online is the most convenient option while India has preferred the hybrid (a combination of online and offline) mode

The COVID impact tracker will help understand global response to the pandemic. Developing such an understanding will be of great help to policymakers to design/modify their future education policies. Pic: PTI

As the world tries to recover from the effects of the pandemic, nearly 50% countries still haven’t gone back to offline education, shows an international COVID-19 education recovery tracker led by Unicef.

Online education has been the most convenient option while countries like India are now in the hybrid (a combination of online and offline) mode.

The tracker was developed jointly by Johns Hopkins University, World Bank and Unicef, capturing information from 208 countries between March and September, 2021. Unicef stated that the tracker will help understand global response to the pandemic. Developing such an understanding will be of great help to policymakers to design/modify their future education policies.

Hybrid mode requires students and teachers to cope with online and in-person lessons simultaneously. In India, most states have opened up schools from class 8 to 12, but due to attendance restrictions (generally at 50%) online education continues. Those below class 8 have to compulsorily opt for full online mode of schooling.

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Countries and mode of education they follow

High income countries like Russia, Canada, Greenland and China have completely shifted to offline education.

Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Poland, France and the United Kingdom too are back to in-person classes. In Africa, South Africa, Zambia and Angola have resumed offline classes.

Some countries in Central Asia and Africa like Chad, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania have put education on the backburner with students having no access to education whatsoever.

Also read: 14% young Indians feel depressed, only 41% seek help: UNICEF report

Hybrid mode is most common in Asia, especially in India, Pakistan and Bhutan. Australia and New Zealand, which have just come out of a strict lockdown, also find this mode of education convenient. Saudi Arabia and Oman are also following the hybrid mode.

The US, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador too have opted for hybrid way of learning.

Vaccination status among teachers

The Unicef tracker suggests that vaccination among teachers in improving in Pakistan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan in South Asia; Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru in the Latin American and the Caribbeans.

In comparison, North American countries, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, China, Sweden and Greenland have done a good job so far when it comes to vaccinating their teachers.

Impact of COVID on children

Children and young people could feel the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and well-being for many years to come, UNICEF warned in its flagship report released in the first week of October.

More than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10–19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally.

“It has been a long, long 18 months for all of us – especially children. With nationwide lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions, children have spent indelible years of their lives away from family, friends, classrooms, play – key elements of childhood itself,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The impact is significant, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. Even before the pandemic, far too many children were burdened under the weight of unaddressed mental health issues. Too little investment is being made by governments to address these critical needs. Not enough importance is being placed on the relationship between mental health and future life outcomes.”

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