The Role Education Plays in Resilience During COVID-19
by Anika Baboun
Back in February, when the alarm and panic on the growing spread of the COVID-19 virus, the World Bank established a multi-sectoral global task force to support country response and coping measures. During this time, China was the only country that had begun taking the necessary measures such as, enforcing social distancing through school closures. According to The World Bank, approximately two weeks later 120 countries have closed schools impacting a billion students worldwide.
While school closures appear to introduce a coherent answer for authorizing social distancing, prolonged closures will in have an excessively negative effect on the most vulnerable students. School closures have diminished the opportunities for students and their time away from school may introduce financial weights for parents who may confront difficulties finding childcare, or even sufficient food without school meals.
Education systems have certain qualities that make them uniquely placed for building individual, community, and systemic resilience. In times of hardship, education retains high public value and demand, reaches populations at scale, and serves as a critical hub for information sharing. According to Education In Crisis And Conflict Network, an efficient education system has the potential to expand individual, community, and institutional resilience, and resilient populations are best able to deliver safe, relevant, quality education and learning for all children and youth.
At this time, it is important for schools and higher education systems to branch out and remain knowledgeable about the situation. Rather than dwelling on the fact that students may or may not be able to return to school as planned, schools must begin to plan for the “new normal” while being as resilient as possible. According to USAID’s Transforming Systems in Adversity: Education and Resilience, education systems can:
Support and strengthen social capital, which acts as an important safety net during crises
Raise the human capital of individuals, a critical foundation for resilience
Play a critical role in strengthening community knowledge
Strengthen the self-efficacy, aspirations, and confidence of individuals
Although school closure has an endless list of negative impacts on both students and parents, it is important to keep in mind that the necessary precautions are taken to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In difficult times like these we must come up with solutions and build resilience, both individually and for our community.