Among other effects, educational systems worldwide have been particularly hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the United Nations, more than one third of the world population has been isolated due to the pandemic and 166 countries have closed schools and universities. As a result of schools closures, around 1.5 Billion pupils have been affected. The outbreak has also led to closure of 18,000 schools before the commencement of educational year in Afghanistan, and 9 million pupils and 203,201 teachers remain out of school. In addition, 169 higher education institutions have been closed, affecting 388,191 students.
Countries all around the world, including Afghanistan, strive to adopt two alternatives to fill the gaps created by school closures; utilization of TV channels and using the internet. Such transformation of educational systems has suddenly shifted physical presence in educational centers into remote studies. On the other hand, academic institutions are unacquainted with remote platforms. In current circumstances, access to electricity, technology, and the internet have not been facilitated enough in the country to commence remote studies. It is a challenge that many countries worldwide are facing. For instance, In California of the United States, 16% of the students do not have access to the internet, 27% has only limited access to the internet, and 10% of the students can access the internet only through their smartphones. Certainly, the problem is much profound in Afghanistan compared to the state of California. In Afghanistan, Poverty and poor economic condition have reduced access to technology. There are many families that do not even have electricity and television. Which means, utilizing remote platforms for studies is not possible for many students in Afghanistan.
The following are some staggering effects of school closures.
Interruption of the learning process
Schools are places where knowledge and skills are taught and transferred to children and youngsters. School closures will particularly affect those students whose learning capacity is comparatively feeble and are unable to process and memorize a higher amount information. In addition, our country is severely affected by illiteracy. Numerous families are either unaware of the basic education system of the country or they are inconsiderate in this regard. Their hopes are connected to schools, teachers and textbooks. Without schools and teachers, they are unacquainted with the ways through which they can help their children. Subsequently, the problem will create obstacles for students to carry on their studies in schools after the lockdown. Hence, the lockdown has the worst effect on the learning process. Especially those students whose had poor performance in school and were pressured by teachers for improvement are highly affected by school closures.
Engrossment of students in other activities
When almost all governmental and non-governmental establishments are shut down indefinitely and assemblies are also prohibited, family incomes are also affected due to inability to work. As a result, families are forced to engross their children in work. Moreover, private schools are not being paid and are facing financial shortcomings. Hence, students and teachers run into depression and mental illnesses, which will affect their lives after the reopening of schools. The impact is particularly severe in some rural areas where students have no assurance to return to schools after a short period of time.
As schools are places for social connectedness, their closure will disconnect thousands of students with their friends and will consequently lead to social isolation. This leads to agitation of students about schools reopening. The experience is far more overwhelming among 12th grade students as they are excited to start their new journey towards Kankor and university.
Unscheduled lifestyle of children
Since expert’s advice children not to play with technology, especially television and the internet for more than two hours every day, so the lockdown, school closures and interruption of all social activities have cluttered family management. As a result, children choose to spend time on video games, smartphones, computers and television, which will have long-run and short-run mental and behavioral effects on children. Although TV channels and online web pages have learning courses, but children do not usually pursue such programs, and those who do, are not consistent enough to uncover the efficiency of such learning programs. In addition, children see schools and dependence of teachers as the only ways of learning and education. Remote studies (via TV channels and the internet) require assistance from parents, which is unfortunately not a part of principles in Afghan societies.
Some teachers might see themselves incapable of helping their students during the pandemic. However, it is preferred that they should still strive to utilize the current opportunities in order to help their students.
It is a fact that the mental, social and economic conditions will not take its previous form after the crisis. The effects of the pandemic will be severe and long-lasting. Hence, after the reopening of schools, teachers should keep in mind that students have psychologically changed and have been affected by the pandemic. Some of them have lost their relatives, some have experienced financial difficulties due to job losses of their parents, and some might have experience violence at their homes during the lockdown. Even if the mentioned difficulties have not been experienced by students, witnessing intense news of deaths, war and insecurity have affected their minds and it will take time to return to normal condition.
According to some researches, the process toke around 16 years for students to come to normal condition after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Many societies face problems while dealing with distance learning due to lack of access to related electronic appliances such as, computer and smartphones. Therefore, in order to facilitate remote studies for families with poor economic condition or those who live in rural area, and has no access to internet, utilizing TV channels and radios are the best alternatives to somewhat replace physical studies at schools.
However, the best of option is for families to directly help their children and youngsters. Revision of all subjects including subjects of lower grades such as languages, math, history and geography, and high grade subjects such as physics, chemistry and biology is crucial during the lockdown. This is because something of a smaller amount but permanent is better than anything excessive occurring once.