LONDON—Schools should not have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank’s global director for education, told the Education World Forum 2022.
Saavedra, a former education minister of Peru, said “while it was perhaps understandable at the beginning, bars were open, football stadiums were open, but schools were closed. In the future we hope they will let international organisations set the agenda.”
The forum brings together ministers of education, higher education and skills from around the world to discuss how to build stronger educations systems. This year’s forum put special emphasis on how the disruptions caused by Covid-19 had affected those efforts. (See a related article, “Narrowing Education Equity Gaps: Experts Cite Examples That Show It’s Possible”)
Many of this year’s speakers dealt with their countries’ experiences during the pandemic and how they were responding.
Matsie Angelina Motshekga, South Africa’s minister of basic education, spoke on the same panel as Saavedra. She noted that school closings had affected whole families, not just children. Perhaps it had been forgotten that schools provided childcare as well as education, she said.
Accelerating School Reforms
Saudi Arabia’s minister of education, Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sheikh, said his country had regarded the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate change and reform the education system. Things that would have taken ten years normally took two during the pandemic, he said.