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COVID-19 disruptions in the world of learning

Schools all over the world are still closed down due to COVID-19, and this has been a major interference on education.

What are the implications of COVID-19 in a world of learning for young people? To some, it means a total disruption of their education, to others it means increased pressure on already insufficient resources to access education virtually. The United Nations (UN) Youth Group (UNYG) in Ghana championed by UNFPA Ghana recognized the need to come together and explore ways to help young people still focused on their academic work even during the pandemic.

The second Youth Impact Series brought together over 250 participants to a virtual platform where the pros and cons on the current learning and teaching methods were dispassionately discussed.

For young students like Hamdiya Kassim, who is in her final year at the University of Ghana, the relaxed home environment and recurring connectivity issues make learning rather frustrating. She commended the UNYG for their leadership in facilitating this very important conversation and called for stakeholders like telecommunications companies to introduce student packages to assist with technological and data support for students who are lack the logistics to connect to virtual classes. She recognized increased financial burden on guardians due to some businesses having been adversely affected by the pandemic.

Mr. Herbert Krapa, a lecturer from the University of Ghana, stressed on the need to ensure education continues despite the existing challenges. He spoke about the opportunity the ‘new normal’ of virtual learning offers for innovative ways to make learning more practical. Mr. Krapa recommended a re-visit to the grading system to address issues of inequality and access, to ensure fairness to students on the other end of the digital divide.

Dr Joshua Mallet, the director at the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS), spoke on the government’s response to ensuring continuous learning for the over 105 educational institutions in the country including persons living with disability, with the added feature of sign language. He recognized the importance of organizing training on digital teaching at the nation’s teacher training colleges.

Renowned journalist and TV host, Mr Bernard Avle who moderated the session, reiterated the opportunity to re-invent teaching methods to answer to the new-found needs of the student populace, both rural and urban. He called for everyone to recognize the basic role they all play in tasking themselves to feed into the national effort of promoting effective means of virtual learning.

For the many students around the world who tuned in for the UN Ghana Youth Impact Series, one message resonated: “Amidst the uncertainty this pandemic brings, we will strive against all odds to find solutions to the existing challenges in virtual learning.”