The education system before COVID

Home » Economy » The education system before COVID February 17, 2022

The emergency situation experienced by the world since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the health systems and the economy of many countries. The challenges have spread to other sectors of society, on a scale not seen in our generation.

In all of this, the education system has been badly affected, as it was one of the first to close to comply with social isolation measures. This has aroused the concern of all interested sectors, from parents and authorities to teachers and pupils. On the one hand, there was the difficulty of continuing the teaching of study plans and programs, on the other hand, there was the challenge of monitoring and evaluating the knowledge acquired.

One of the solutions proposed was based on the use of information technologies and digital media, with online courses or open television. The effort of teachers and students to work with this modality should be appreciated, trying to complete the programs in the best possible way.

However, it must be considered that access to online education was not uniform, since not all the population has the means to carry out these activities. According to INEGI data, in 2020 only 61% of Mexican households had access to the internet, and among them, only 51% used it to support school activities. Even the level of mastery of these technologies among teachers in different regions of the country is unknown.

All this could have resulted in a simulation of the educational process, in which everyone tried to do their part. On the teachers’ side, it is possible that some have opted for the easy way out by leaving an unrealistic amount of homework, with a superficial monitoring of the objectives achieved. On the student side, it is possible that many simply tried to cope with the situation, fulfilling a minimum of tasks and commitments.

In these circumstances, the expressions of solidarity by Mexicans are always to be highlighted, because they have tried to do something to alleviate the great inequalities that permeate our country, such as the case of the professor from Chiapas, who installed a device in his truck to carry a Wi-Fi signal. to marginalized neighborhoods in their locality, and as this case there are others.

At present, as more than two years have passed, teachers and parents have been working hard to try to save students’ education. In addition, thanks in large part to vaccination campaigns, many schools have been reopened for a return to face-to-face classes. There is the reality of a society that did what it could to deal with the emergency.

Now perhaps it is time to take the pulse of this reality, to move on to collecting data that helps us understand the state of education, to know the effects of lived experiences, all of this should lead us to propose measures to recover what has been lost.

In addition, it should be taken into account that said educational process has taken place in many cases with a social or family situation of vulnerability, high stress and volatility, aggravated in some cases by the level of poverty and inequality that characterizes our country. For the worse, with educational institutions accustomed to face-to-face and traditional work.

Although all the initiatives proposed to carry out the educational process could have helped a little or a lot, it is possible that society focuses more on the means than on the ends of education. It is assumed that the knowledge acquired at school should help us to understand and interpret reality, to seek solutions to the problems facing society. Well, the challenge is still there, among us, testing our ability as a society to survive in the best way possible.

Sometimes reality teaches more than school, especially in a crisis situation. During these years, everyone has been subjected to an extraordinary load of information. Many people may have heard of the difference between exponential or linear growth, which is a virus, or viral load, the way you treat a viral disease versus a bacterial disease. We now know that soap acts on the outer layer of the virus; also what an artificial respirator is and how it can be constructed. Likewise, many other topics have been discussed in the media and networks such as: graphs, tables, social responsibility, cells, molecules, maps and geography, etc., etc.

During the first year of the pandemic, it seemed to me that society needed to understand that through this exposure of knowledge through non-traditional means, it was possible for various topics to be learned in everyday life. This same level of learning could be used to argue that the best way to assess this year in elementary and high school was simply to give all students a passing grade. On the other hand, in the case of high school or high school youth, they could have been asked to investigate and elaborate on the issues associated with COVID-19, based on the information available to them, and with a review of this work, give them an evaluation.

Later, he proposed that at the start of the next cycle, or when the current one resumes, they try to relate the new topics to what has been seen all these months in the media and networks. At the same time, it is very possible that solid information and fake news will be mixed in all these media, but clarifying it should be the priority of the new cycle. In order to achieve the above, they should have worked with the professors, to update them with more solid foundations on these issues, for which scientists and scholars from universities and research institutes should be invited to clarify the the most complex questions.

However, now that classes have resumed, they are making the mistake of trying to pick things up as if nothing had happened. Indeed, with the first reports on the mental health of students (see for example: Process, n° 2362, pp. 28), it becomes clear that there are problems with the mental growth of children and young people, which have passed from childhood to adolescence physically, but not quite emotionally.

In the case of higher education, it was recommended that they try to use online education, depending on the specialties of each career. However, given the lack of experience of our university system in the use of technologies and distance education, it was difficult to trust the effectiveness of these methods in the current context. Although most of the students were accustomed to traditional methods and the teacher’s guide, the testimonies I collected indicate that a portion of the students were ready to fully enter into distance learning.

In this sense, it seemed to me that during this emergency, it was neither possible nor advisable to try to reproduce the complete content of a traditional course with other technologies and media. It seems to me rather that it is urgent to identify in the study plans the central and essential themes on which the efforts of teachers and students must be concentrated. It is true that current knowledge is very broad, but there are central concepts in each area, which deserve to be presented in detail, to understand the laws that govern them. From what I have seen in the media and my own experience, no higher education institution has offered to adapt their study plans to the new situation, rather they have tried to save the traditional plans with the tools available.

For example, in science and engineering careers, we have the concept of energy as one of those central themes, which helps us know that every natural process expends a certain amount of energy, and energy cannot be obtained from nothing, like magic. . Knowing energy allows us to know how machines, movement, electricity work. Thanks to the energy, we can discover many tricks in the miracle products and even not believe in the existence of ghosts. Urgent curricula should emphasize topics like this or others relevant to other areas.

At various times in our country, education on some specific subjects has been carried out by non-traditional means, thanks to which people have managed to acquire basic knowledge in various fields, among which we can mention: computer skills, car mechanics , nursing, construction , Languages. All these examples should not give a broader perspective of the educational process in society, to assess what is actually learned at school and what is more is part of the process of socialization of children and young people, so important for their development. . This evaluation would help us to give the examinations their right dimension, even to study them with the help of science itself, to know if they are overvalued as the only means of knowing the level of knowledge of the pupils.

There are many tasks that we must resume when the emergency has been completely overcome or when it is under control, although it may not be possible to return to that past in which we all grew up. In my opinion, one of the most urgent tasks of the education system is a comprehensive revision of study plans at all levels, to give them the greatest possible flexibility. These plans must include a component for the use of technologies, which, together with a humanistic education, make the student an agent of change and generator of solutions to the problems of our society.

In the case of basic and secondary education, it is of vital importance to integrate science education with new methodologies that make it attractive and interesting, so that society considers it an important part of culture of every citizen. A culture that allows us to decide the value of healthy distancing and hygiene measures, as a means of preventing the spread of disease, or of accepting the reliability of vaccines, as a measure that helps us to be in better conditions for overcome the emergency that left so many lives and suffering in our lives.

Finally, given the difficult situation that we are experiencing and continue to experience, I have always believed that it is strongly recommended to raise awareness that tolerance, benevolence, respect, patience, are values ​​and attitudes which should be even more valuable and encouraged by our system. educative. We must emerge more human, in order to make this critical situation more bearable, so that we can all fulfill our obligations, protect ourselves with our families and thus be able to count that we have survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janice G. Ball