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Education Amid COVID-19 Opportunities Challenges
Written by: Bariq Khursheed

COVID-19 is an acronym that means coronavirus disease, and the number 19 alludes to the year the disease was first identified, i.e. 2019. This pandemic is the defining global health crisis of the present time and the biggest threat facing the world since World War II. COVID -19 is the latest type of coronavirus reported for the first time from Wuhan, a town in the Hudai province of China, in December 2019.

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Since it emerged in Asia late last year, the virus has now spread to every continent except Antarctica. the virus causes a severe respiratory infection in humans. The virus has affected about 20 million people living in 213 Countries and Territories around the world and has caused more than 7 lakh deaths throughout the world. The USA topping the list with 159k deaths. In India, the first case of COVID 19 was reported on 30 January 2020 and currently has the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia.

We are facing the global gigantic educational crisis. As of March 28 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic is causing more than 1.6 billion children and youth to be out of school in 161 countries. This is close to 80 % of the worlds enrolled students population. We were already experiencing a global learning crisis as
many students were in schools but were not learning the fundamental skills needed for life (The world banks learning poverty indicator.)

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The percentage of children who cannot read and understand at the age of 10 stood at 53% of children in low and middle-income countries before the outbreak started. this pandemic has the potential to worsen these outcomes even more if we do not act it fast. what should we be worried about in this phase of the global crisis that might have an immediate impact on children and youth?

1) losses in learning

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2) Increased drop out rates

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3) Children missing their most important meal of the day.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. this pandemic has posed grave threats and challenges. however, there are some opportunities that the germ has given rise to. There are some blessings in disguise. for instance, since a decade, the world has given emphasis over online education, technology-based teaching and learning, internet-based courses, diplomas and degrees. People, around the globe, have been picking up the pace.

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Nowadays there are reputed websites, and online portals, colleges and universities, and even job and career, websites like Facebook and linked-in that are running worthy certificate courses. There are varied areas of expenditure that are dealt with. There are courses like freelance writing photography, video editing, blogging and so on.

Its high time we take all this to the next level. Let’s take it seriously now. The future will be governed by the giant known as the internet. everything will be the reality of the globe. This is the time when the governments of all countries especially the developing countries and the third world nations must invest in building the necessary infrastructure.

Now, there is a flip side too. Every opportunity comes with a price and some challenges. The first and foremost is a challenge of impact. the impact that a teacher draws over the students in a classroom cant be matched to that of an online class likewise, the challenge of coverage is there. It is very difficult to take technology to all. There are poor and those who do not have access to mobile phones, personal computers and the internet. Similarly, there are some countries where the necessary infrastructure and facilities and poor. In such countries, necessary development and scare resources is a challenge to achieve.

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