The pandemic has favored remote teaching and increased inequality at university

The pandemic has favored remote teaching and increased inequality at university

Two years ago, universities around the world were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing them to increase their digital resources. This change had a pernicious effect: it deepened the differences between regions, as well as inequality among students.

Explains Matthias Bouckaert, an analyst with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and an expert on university issues.

In some countries, Online teaching Already happened, as in CanadaThe harsh winters sometimes make commuting impossible. In other countries, such as Turkey, where the law mandated a significant level of face-to-face teaching, these practices were less common,” he points out.

Covid-19, which caused universities to close in March 2020 in most countries and implement distance learning, then a hybrid form (between face-to-face and distance), had a “diverse impact by regions and resource level”, with countries in Europe and North America “better” [preparados] to deal with the turmoil,” says a UNESCO report published in early 2021.

This is the case in the United States, where student enrollment in remote programs increased by 29% between 2012 and 2018. According to official statistics, 16% of students in the United States were enrolled in exclusively remote classes at the end of 2018.

“Where are the facilities?”
In the United States, most university institutions closed from March 2020 to August 2021 due to the pandemic, which has led to a decrease in enrollment, especially for international students, whose enrollment has decreased by 17% between 2019 and 2021. Clearinghouse Research Center.

“In general, universities that have had international students have been greatly affected by digitization,” summarizes Matthias Bouckaert, citing the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia as examples.

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Moreover, even if distance learning is successful in some countries, such as Canada, in other regions of the world, such as Africa, the situation is quite different.

In Kenya, access to the Internet and computers is one of the main problems. “We are in very bad shape,” says Masebo Lumala, a lecturer at Moi University. He asks, “We are qualified to teach online, most of us are trained to do so. But where are the facilities?”

Phyllis Maina, a dental student at the University of Nairobi, criticizes the poor quality of the internet and laments that “the social interactions between faculty and students […] disappeared.”

In this sense, the pandemic has not only changed the shape of education, but also student life, which has psychological repercussions and helps increase inequality.

“My parents told me college is the time when we’ll meet people for life, but that’s not what I see,” Emil Koons, 22, a student at the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering in Berlin, told AFP.

“On a general level, there was an impact on mental health. Isolation and confinement were complicated,” repeats Matthias Bouckaert. The epidemic has also “exacerbated existing inequalities”. He adds that “disadvantaged students faced more difficulties,” especially those who had children or did not have a computer.

For Raphalle Laignoux, vice president in charge of student life at Université Paris-Sorbonne, in France, although some institutions have implemented assistance for students in terms of access to equipment and the Internet, “it is in social conditions – where they are and how they feed themselves – that The disparities persist.

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About the Author: Camelia Kirk

"Friendly zombie guru. Avid pop culture scholar. Freelance travel geek. Wannabe troublemaker. Coffee specialist."

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