Is education vital, now more than ever? Yes!
Education is at stake all over the world. Before COVID-19, progress towards inclusive and equitable quality education was already slow, as more than 200 million children at the end of this decade would have been without education. Now those numbers are climbing. Inequalities in education have been exacerbated by the coronavirus and by having schools closed. Approximately 90 percent of all students, in the world, have been out of school during the pandemic.
If distance learning is a solution, it is not for the 500 million students who do not have access to the virtual classroom. This is not a viable solution globally. If many parents, in better times, could not pay for books or tuition, how could they buy a device with internet access for their children?
The statistics compiled by the United Nations cited above are grim. Even so, the UN goal of ensuring that all boys and girls complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education that leads to relevant and effective learning outcomes by 2030 still stands. This was one of the most ambitious, hopeful, and relevant goals of our time and it still remains the fourth goal of the 17 sustainable development goals of the UN for this decade.
Achieving this goal alone would have dramatically reduced the problems of poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice that we face today. But realistically, offering such a future to the children of our planet would have depended on many factors.
I believe that in times of pandemic the world should come together to offer a viable education to students. Broadcasters should rethink their programming, and schools should have airtime to teach classes or seminars to students. Newspapers and radio stations should also boost the academic training of students and allow space and broadcast time for teachers and other educators. We need to make education a priority for children around the world.
Experts have undoubtedly considered this and televised education is already taking place in different parts of the world.
In Latin America, in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Peru, some programming for students is already being broadcast nationally or locally. It is true that simply being receivers of information on a screen is not the best of models. A student needs to be an active agent in their own learning, but this is a temporary solution for the millions of students who do not have access to Zoom.
It could be said that this solution should be recommended for Latin America, but not for the United States. Is not true. It is very easy to find on Google how many children in this country do not have internet access at home, and if you do a little research, you end up discovering that the majority are black, Latino, and indigenous children.
I think that Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV have a responsibility to devise solutions and finance them so that children can study in times of pandemic, be it here in this country or in the most vulnerable regions of the world.
Telephone network providers also have to be part of the conversation. They must offer all the necessary support for students, parents, and teachers to help students learn by phone or through social media.
Education is part of the most viable solutions to heal the wounds of our own country and to hold public officials accountable. I believe in the resilience of children and I know that they can overcome these stages of study that are abnormal.
I listened to my little three-year-old nephew reflect on a question someone asked him, are you going to school? He said, I think so. He was setting up a new definition of what school and learning means without a classroom or classmates. It may be that if children are taught properly, they can grow stronger, with a better idea on how to deal with peer and social pressures. Something negative like being isolated may instill an appreciation for harmonious community in the future. Family environment may become healthier as we go through these uncertain times.
We have to imagine it like this and do everything possible to support the education of our children.