Impact of school closures on education outcomes in South Africa

Impact of school closures on education outcomes in South Africa

By mid April about 1.725 billion students globally had been affected by the closure of school and higher education institutions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the UNESCO Monitoring Report, 192 countries have implemented nationwide closures, affecting about 99% of the world’s student population.

This is unprecedented. The scale and complexity of what’s happening is entirely new territory.

In recent decades crises such as natural disasters, armed conflicts and epidemics have disrupted education around the world. For example, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina in the US destroyed 110 of New Orleans’ 126 public schools. In the past decade, at least 2.8 million Syrian children have been out of school for some period, and in 2013, 5 million children were out of school as a result of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

School closures affect students, teachers and families and have far-reaching economic and social effects. This is especially the case for fragile education systems and the negative effects will be more severe for disadvantaged learners and their families.

Finding alternative learning forms during this time is difficult. But not impossible.

In response to COVID-19 school closures and adherence to social distancing, UNESCO and many governments and agencies have recommended the use of distance learning, open educational applications and online learning to reduce disruption to education.

Richer households are better placed to sustain learning through online learning strategies, although with a lot of effort and challenges for teachers and parents. In poorer households many children don’t have a desk, books, internet connectivity, a computer, or parents who can take the role of homeschooling. The disparity in access to digital devices and connectivity between rich and poor is immense.

You can read the full article in The Conversation here.