Millions of school and university students have returned to school in various parts of the world, following the closure imposed by the pandemic, but experts believe that education after the “Covid-19” crisis will be completely different from what it was before it.
In this report, the American Foreign Policy magazine sheds light on various aspects of the effects of the new Corona virus on education systems around the world, through the opinions of a group of experts and academics.
Technology threatens universities’ influence
Michael Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that universities will remain as we know them, but that they will lose the prestige they held before the outbreak of the virus.
Smith asserts that universities have derived their influence for centuries from their control over the number of students who reach their seats, the small number of distinguished teachers, and the students’ need for their diplomas (degrees) to enter the job market.
According to him, the adoption of digital technologies in distance education, ease of access for students to study materials, and new mechanisms for online employment are all factors that will limit the influence of universities in the coming period.
Many experts in academia see the recent developments as a major financial threat to universities. “Instead of panicking, teachers need to embrace these changes as an opportunity to fulfill their primary mission, which is to help students discover their skills, develop their talents, and use them to create positive change in the world,” Smith says.
The need to return to school
Ludger Wussmann, professor of economics at the University of Munich and director of the Ifo Center for Economic Research, asserts that distance education has not been a good alternative to traditional education.
A recent survey of more than a thousand parents of schoolchildren in Germany showed that the time students spend in school and doing homework decreased from 7.4 to 3.6 hours per day, while the time they spent watching television, playing with a computer or using cell phones doubled. Up to 5.2 hours a day.
Contrary to the prevailing belief that better-educated parents are more able to provide a suitable home education environment, the survey showed that the time their children spent in school declined sharply, just as it is the case for children of less educated parents.
The main difference shown by the study is that students who did poorly in school, regardless of socioeconomic background, now spend more time playing games instead of studying compared to their peers who did well in school.
Wussman believes that it is necessary to do everything in our power to return to traditional education as soon as possible, while taking the necessary preventive measures, and if this is not possible, a complete schedule for online education must be established.
He also stresses the need to compensate students for what they lost in their studies during the past period, otherwise their future development will be seriously damaged, he said.
Strict precautionary measures and plans
Jennifer Nozo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health confirms that the opening of schools in the United States and a number of other countries and a return to traditional education, showed the need to implement strict measures in order to limit the spread of the virus.
The epidemiologist adds that it is important for schools to plan for the possibility of some of their students, teachers, or employees contracting the virus, and to be prepared to deal with this emergency by developing clear plans for closures, how long students will stay at home, and return dates.
Deep problems in developing countries
Devish Kapoor, a professor specializing in South Asian studies and director of Asia programs at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, says that there is no doubt that the “Covid-19” epidemic will have profound effects on the people of the poorest countries, but the question arises is how severe that is. The effect and how long it might take.
Kapoor explains that India, for example, was facing major challenges and problems in its educational system even before the pandemic, with about 260 million children in school and nearly 40 million students in universities. This is clearly demonstrated by poor school results and high dropout rates.
Kapoor added that despite the massive increase in the penetration of the Internet and smartphones in recent years, about 70% of Indians living in rural areas still do not have access to digital technology, making the return of traditional education a critical issue in these areas, he said. .
Decline in the number of university students abroad
Salvatore Paponez, an assistant researcher at the Center for Independent Studies, and an associate professor at the University of Sydney, expects that student mobility between countries will decline in the post-epidemic period after it almost completely stopped during the pandemic, especially because of the deteriorating relationship between China and the West.
Paponiz confirms that China – whose students make up 20% of students studying abroad around the world – may intend to reduce the number of its students in Western universities, especially as it suffers from a small number of high school graduates due to the one-child policy, and it desperately needs to save its universities from the risk of bankruptcy And to keep its foreign currency balance.
According to the Australian expert, China will continue to send its outstanding students to study abroad in order to obtain the best scientific training and familiarity with the latest technological developments, but it will, in return, keep a large number of its students in Chinese universities, which, in his opinion, poses a great challenge for Western universities.
Interest in the job
Mona Morshed, CEO of the organization “Generation”, confirms that the prospects for obtaining work for degree holders have become more difficult than they were before the epidemic, as about 400 million people lost their jobs around the world, joining the 200 million unemployed, and this is what It makes the transition from education to employment a more unreliable process than before.
Mona says that the epidemic will force universities, vocational training colleges and other post-secondary institutions to change their orientation, because students will be in dire need to enter the labor market as soon as possible after graduation, and they will not be ready to invest in education if they do not obtain guarantees of access. On jobs.
Financial crisis facing American universities
Dick Startz, a professor of economics at the University of California Santa Barbara, says that the revenues of American universities, especially the public ones, fell sharply during the first half of this year due to the suspension of studies, as well as that the shift to teaching via the Internet requires large investments in equipment, cloud computing services and technical support.
Startz believes that American universities can overcome this crisis in the coming years and regain their health and resources, but he confirms that there are two major challenges facing university education in the United States, the first is to reduce government support for higher education, as happened in the 1929 crisis, and the second is the transfer of many foreign students from American universities to Australian and European universities due to tightening immigration restrictions to the United States.