Celebrating International Education Day amidst a Pandemic

Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation

Among the many challenges affecting these unprecedented times, education has undoubtedly changed a lot over the past year. As we are pushed out of the comfort zone to adapt to technology in the absence of better alternatives, some may say it is a much-needed change. Experimentation and new attitudes could help developing countries realise and embrace the opportunities modern technology brings.

A step towards a new direction

As educational institutions closed down and the pandemic surged, we were posed with the question of how this will impact the education of an entire nation. There came a very obvious solution – online learning. Thanks to the support from families, schools, and their own willpower, many students made the transition from traditional to online learning platforms. However, what is convenient, comfortable and novel to one child can be daunting, isolating or even seemingly impossible to another.

As parents of children who are comfortably learning from home, it is important to prioritize mental wellbeing by breaking the monotony, giving enough space to unwind, and encouraging effective time management. Keep in mind that they are experiencing this for the first time just as most of us experienced working from home. Our children’s education and development are dependent on us more than ever, and it shall be a privilege to demonstrate that learning is a life-long process and attitude, rather than an activity limited to a classroom.

The reality of disadvantaged youth

On the other hand, children in less developed areas continue to struggle with their education in ways unlike before. Many cannot afford the necessary electronic devices, and others risk safety while trekking to find decent network coverage for learning material. Not all children have the ideal environments to learn from home either. When coupling these factors with the inability of their parents to help with education, many of our valuable children are being left behind during this period of change.

In addition to making the disparity of children’s opportunities more visible, the current inaccessibility of online education lacks an important element of traditional education. That is the ability to bring individuals from differing walks of life to one room, where all have the opportunity to interact, build their self-esteem and to grow. Such social/cultural exposure and learning to peacefully co-exist is crucial for the wellbeing of a country as diverse as our nation.

Acting in the nation’s best interest

While moving forward with a sense of continuity and careful optimism this year, it is of utmost importance to ensure that none of our dear children are left behind. Lack of education is cause for the pressing social, economic and environmental issues we face today. We must focus resources into supporting all young individuals, rather than failing to fulfill their right to education and later tackling the consequences. On this International Education Day, let us celebrate its importance and acknowledge the present challenges we must overcome, in order to build a brighter future for Sri Lanka.

Yashasmi Wickramasuriya, Rainbow Institute of Communication