In March 2019, a virus broke out in Wuhan, China. This virus quickly spread worldwide, affecting millions of people and bringing many challenges. This widespread disease has disrupted the way we live. One of the largest disruptions is to education. About 40 percent of the poorest countries (which are often rural) did not support students during the COVID-19 crisis. This article explains how Covid has affected education for rural communities.
Widening educational gap
Before the pandemic, the widening educational gap was already a cause for concern. Over 72 million children of primary education age are not in school and 759 million adults are unable to read or write. Researchers in Canada estimate the pandemic could increase the gap by more than 30 per cent.
During this period, many schools are closed. Students from richer families can afford remote learning tools to continue their education. However, students from lower-income communities lag behind because of no access to such digital resources. There is a growing concern in developing countries like the Philippines and India that these learners do not have the proper support. The disruption makes it hard for lower-income students to catch up with schoolwork.
Education for marginalised groups of students has also become harder. Students with special needs, such as autism and dyslexia, need more resources and attention. This may not always be in reach for rural communities. Hence, the educational gap will widen in rural communities.
An increase in the dropout rate expected
The worldwide disruption of the economy because of Covid has resulted in a significant loss of jobs. This is hard for those in rural communities, as many children may have to drop out of school to support their families. UNESCO estimates that 23.8 million children and youth may drop out of school next year because of the pandemic’s economic impact alone.
The previously mentioned school closures make girls and young women in rural communities more vulnerable to child marriage, early pregnancy, and domestic violence–all of which increase their likelihood of dropping out of school, widening the educational gender gap.
In rural communities, schools also provide children with extra resources, such as paid school meals and support systems. Closed schools stop such help from reaching the most vulnerable families in rural communities.
How can we help improve access to education for rural communities in Covid?
The Patatas have come up with a solution to the challenges preventing rural communities from getting an education – CaseStudy. CaseStudy is a briefcase packed with customisable audio-visual materials important for conducting classes in rural communities, even in the middle of COVID lockdowns.
Easy to transport and set up:
All the materials needed packed neatly in one case, we have made the setup simple. From classrooms to village halls, CaseStudy prepares teachers with the ability to conduct a class anywhere, anytime.
Use of technology:
Even with the previously mentioned barriers, the equipment and accessories in CaseStudy will give the best modern classroom experience possible. We have put together equipment that do not require stable electricity or Internet. We have kept limitations faced in mind while helping students in rural communities to experience technology. In this society, it is extremely important they develop digital literacy skills to keep their knowledge relevant.
Customisable educational materials to the needs of the community:
The materials can range from weekly modular learning worksheets to videos of a local teacher in your school. Teachers can load different files into it based on their teaching style and their students’ learning pace.
Safe to use:
The CaseStudy can effectively broadcast an Intranet signal up to *thirty devices within a radius of 50 metres. Students can go to their local village halls to download the school materials on their parents’ devices for later. Thus, allowing them to adhere to safe social distance protocols.
In conclusion, improving access to education during the pandemic for rural communities is possible. Even with school closures, classes can continue to be conducted in smaller village halls using CaseStudy. It is easy to download the educational materials to students’ devices. Thus, CaseStudy is a helpful resource and tool for teachers, businesses and organisations working in these communities without internet or power.
If you want to explore with us to support a local community with CaseStudy, or just connect with us on partnerships, you may reach out to us via email or Facebook.
*applicable to any device that can connect to Wi-Fi. Walls may affect the ability to receive Wi-Fi signals.