How COVID-19 influences education: comparison of North and South America

COVID-19 has resulted in devastating results for various industries all around the globe.

One of the most affected sectors includes educational institutions of all academic levels. Countrywide governments initiated different precautionary safety measures to try and curb the spread of this virus.

Many of them shut down schools, while others left it up to local governments to make judgment calls based on unique area-specific data. How have these decisions impacted education? Here is a comparison of North and South America in this matter.

Mother and her son

School closure protocols

In North America, school closure protocols depended on certain state governors. Although that is true, schools around the country were shut down and some of them opened up systematically. Others are still undergoing lockdown until further notice. The COVID impact on fashion graduates includes delayed graduation ceremonies because of locked-down facilities.

Almost all countries in South America initiated countrywide lockdowns leading to hundreds of millions of students being out of school. Students then had to adapt to different learning methods to keep up with their studies.

One of those learning methods includes distance learning using various technology tools and services, such as video conferencing and online writing services.

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woman using a mask

How school closure protocols have impacted students

Students have faced different challenges due to school closure protocols. Some of those challenges include feeling isolated. Parents from North America are not finding time to teach their children and that is why video conferencing tools have been deemed necessary.

This was not much of a problem in North America because most students have a smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop. Adapting to this learning environment was not very hard for this part of the world, but it was more challenging in South America. Some countries in this region are not that developed and students do not have access to communication devices that can help them.

Distance Learning

There are many distance learning methods that have been tried in these regions, including studying using video conferencing. Some educational institutions have online learning portals for their students. Their entire curriculum is digitalized and can be accessed on both desktop and mobile devices. This versatility has improved accessibility for students.

Also read: Outbreaks and demonstrations in Europe due to COVID

These distance learning models are more effective in higher education students. Students doing lower grades still need more guidance, so teaching tips and the material were sent to parents. Due to South America’s socio-economic gaps compared to North America, implementing these systems has become a big challenge.

Socio-economic gaps

In countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, digital readiness for this pandemic in the educational sector was lacking. Because of socio-economic issues, 64% of primary students did not have an internet-connected computer. It is even lower if only Latin America is considered. 59% of students in secondary education faced this same problem and 32% tertiary learners. These gaps created large problems for education in these disadvantaged countries.

Not to mention the lack of parents with enough skills to facilitate distance learning. Only a portion of students could use regular distance learning models implemented in North American countries and states. However, learning needed to continue so there were various solutions implemented to make this work.

Trying to close socio-economic gaps

South American educational institutions tried to close these gaps by using more traditional media. For example, radio and television are used to keep the educational system running. There are channels and time slots dedicated to different curriculum, especially amongst primary and secondary education students.

Other methods have been implemented, including using social media instead of sophisticated learning portals. By using platforms such as WhatsApp, students have formed study groups with their teachers where they can try and continue with their studies. That has tried to close the gap in educational institutions caused by socioeconomic situations that can’t be solved right away.

The bottom line

COVID-19 greatly impacts educational institutions and socio-economic gaps have widened in disadvantaged countries in the South American region. Although that is true, educational institutions and students have invested some great effort into making distance learning a reality.

By implementing social media channels and traditional media, students in disadvantaged countries can also study at home. In North America, this learning model is not much of a problem because of advanced infrastructure.

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