These issues take on added urgency in the post-Covid-19 world, said Kherieh Rassas, vice president of Palestine’s An-Najah National University.
“Despite the importance of technology in our lives, we have become its hostages,” Rassas told Al-Fanar Media. “What if another virus of another kind emerges and paralyzes technology? We must think seriously to answer this question.” (See a related article, “Kherieh Rassas Aims to Help Palestinian Students Compete Globally”.)
‘A Huge Educational Gap’
During the pandemic, schools in most countries closed their doors, leaving millions of children unable to access education.
According to a Unicef report issued in 2020, 91 percent of students from low-income households or rural families do not have access to the Internet.
In her message, Azoulay said: “Covid-19 disruptions have only exacerbated an educational crisis that, even before the pandemic, excluded 268 million children from school, especially girls. As a result of this exclusion, millions of children, youth and adults are exposed to poverty, violence, and exploitation.”
Even for students who have been able to continue classes, Covid-19 disrupted education. In order not to lose an entire academic year, many students were allowed to move to higher grades without passing the required proficiency tests.
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Mohammed Rady, a professor of educational psychology at Sohag University, in Egypt, said: “Although the methods adopted to deal with the crisis aimed at reducing educational losses, they created a huge educational gap.”
He explained that shortening curricula, reducing schooling hours, and sometimes canceling exams “made the situation worse.”
‘We Must Rethink Education’
Azoulay summed up the situation: “In these exceptional times, business as usual is no longer an option. If we are to transform the future, if we are to change course, we must rethink education. This means forging a new social contract for education,” she said.
“We need to repair past injustices and orient the digital transformation around inclusion and equity,” she added.
“To do this, we need to support education financially, keeping in mind that it is not an expense, but an investment.”