|There is no doubt, we are incredibly lucky. Technology, in the form of smart phones, lap tops, PC’s, the internet, WiFi, a printer and of course, dedicated teachers mean that in this new normal of learning from home, I have all the resources I need to keep the children on a path of education that is in line with the curriculum they would be learning at school. However, I know that there are parents in the UK who do not fare so fortunately.
In a report published on the BBC website this morning, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that when the schools return it will be in a phased manner, with the possibility of years 6, 10 and 12 going back first. The chair of his Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon warned of a “wave of educational poverty” that could come from the lockdown and stated “every child is going to have suffered from not being in school.” Mr Williamson also gave more details of a scheme to lend laptops to disadvantaged pupils studying at home – saying there would be 200,000 laptops, with the first expected to be delivered by the end of May, with most arriving in June. This would help address the “digital divide” in terms of access to computer technology.
“Education Poverty” – it is amazing that the term is being brandished after less than six weeks in lockdown without school, with two of these weeks being the Easter holidays where I suspect, home schooling was put on hold for a breather! It is equally incredible that the term is being used to describe the state of the education in the UK, one of the richest and most developed countries in the world, complete with an abundance of technology, online resources and of course fantastic dedicated teachers all working in unison to keep education on track during this pandemic lockdown!!
We have been dealing with, and working to improve Education Poverty for the last 10 years, working in countries that are at the other end of the wealth and development spectrum to us here in the UK. In Swaziland, if the children got to school, they were given ONE pencil to last them for the entire academic year, whilst in so many of the countries we work to support, if the children have nothing to write with and nothing to write on, they simply try to remember the lessons they are taught. Our SchoolBags are critical to improving the very basic level of learning of simply being able to write, draw, calculate, colour, be creative, express feeling and of course, have that work checked by the teacher. The vast majority of the school children we provide SchoolBags for are educated in a classroom (of sorts), by a single teacher with blackboard. (Think education in the UK in the early 1900’s for a comparison).
And now, just like us, those schools are shut and the children are in lockdown. And guess what?…millions of teachers around the world won’t have the incredible technological channels that we have to help them keep their children on track with their education.
So how do you home school your children remotely with limited or no resources, both physical and digital? This is a question I presented to our partners around the world two weeks ago, to check in with them and to see how they were coping.