Contributed by Minda Marshall of LectorSA, a member of ADESSA
A wise man once told the story of how he went on a joy ride with a boat off the South African coast. It was a beautiful day, but within a short time, a storm came up. He described how thankful he was that he had an experienced skipper. I remember how he told us that he was standing behind the skipper – watching over his shoulder. The skipper explained to him: “You must be able to see the way through the waves,” as they safely navigated to the beach.
In the eye of the storm
Governments, educators, parents and students are currently facing a perfect storm. The challenge now is to find the way out of the storm. International figures indicate that 1.6 billion students around the world were out of school at the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020. Many countries will be severely challenged to achieve their Learning Poverty goals.[i]
According to the World Bank,we need rapid, decisive, and coordinated action. They indicate that we were already living in a learning crisis before the pandemic. The situation threatens to pose a massive setback to hard-won gains in human capital.[ii] Before the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, the world was already struggling with a learning crisis, with 53 per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries living in learning poverty being unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. Up to 7 million students from primary and secondary education could drop out of school due to the income shock of the pandemic alone.[iii]
The added challenges we face is that I4R is placing a higher demand on learning, unlearning and relearning. We will all need to achieve higher, to develop more, to read faster, think smarter, learn better in the future. Even students that were doing good before might not be doing well enough going forward. We are all faced with oceans of information. Neuroscience has shown that the cognitive load exceeds the capacity of the working memory, intellectual abilities decrease. We must find a way to increase life-long learning effectively and to bridge gaps caused in learning by, and worsen through, the lockdown.
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