Children have an enjoyable time at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
With “To-Do” lists piling up, moving on and forward from the fangs of SARS-CoV2 also means genuine efforts to secure a much better future for the countless future generations through education. This means, among others, doing everything for them to return to their campuses while inspiring them to become more adept at technological advancements.
Genuine and serious efforts moreover mean the ideal un-prejudiced provision of education to both genders. The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) had observed that massive lockdowns and the technologically-dependent distance learning have placed millions of girls and women the world over to discontinue their schooling.
Unicef (Gulf Area)-Child Protection chief Saji Thomas said data have disclosed that a primary reason for millions of girls not to enrol for classes even when schools around the world reopen, is early marriage. Their parents or adult family members believe giving them away in marriage is the solution amidst the pandemic challenges. Some are going through unwanted pregnancies.
Thomas shared the “Framework for the Reopening of Schools,” by UN affiliates, calling for primary schools to reopen safely; the mobilisation of political commitment to maintain and increase budgetary allocations for education; the scale-up of interventions and strengthening support for the learning competencies of faculty members and children. He cited the rise in numbers of even toddlers being subjected to domestic violence because of the pandemic.
African Union Commission-Human Resources Science and Technology commissioner Prof. Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor implied the need to stop excessive blabbering: “Let us all walk the talk.” She pointed out that abandoning or neglecting duties and responsibilities towards children’s schooling will redound to broken individuals leading to biases such as the mindset that girls and women are a rank below boys and men. She stressed that education not only make people literate but allows them to develop as a human being.
American University of Sharjah-School of Business Administration-Department of Marketing and Information Systems associate professor/Centre for Innovation in Teaching director Dr. Norita Ahmad claimed students are already tired of the virtual environment and they desire to physically interact with their teachers and fellow students: “The pandemic has proven how vital schools are to communities. We started to see the biggest dilemma of a large anonymous remote/virtual class. It limits individuality and encourages standardisation in learning against an intimate class that maintains a teacher-student relationship and allows the necessary conditions for active learning to thrive.”
Ahmad said school and university campuses are still “good investments and not obsolete.” She believes boys and men taught the importance of education to girls and women topples down partialities.
Rochester Institute of Technology (Dubai) president Dr. Yousef Al-Assad has the same observation as Ahmad’s on students’ wish to be attending classes right inside their respective classrooms. He pointed out the concept of “learning autism” which is people having been used to dealing only with screens or computers that they are already socially incapable.
“Let us protect people and not jobs,” he added, explaining that in order for the youth to be ready and technologically savvy with future in-demand knowledge and skills, governments, industries and the private sector must continually network and partner with the entire education spectrum.
Thomas, Agbor, Ahmad, and Al-Sayyaf spoke on “From Textbooks to Tech-Savvy: Understanding COVID’s Impact on the Education System,” the second panel discussion for 2021 of the Emirates Environmental Group on Wednesday.
The topic was a suggestion from the EEG network. Chairperson Habiba Al Mar’ashi said the pandemic has “strained” even the financing of education “as fiscal pressures increase and in turn impact the development of education.”
An earlier report said the Ministry of Education announced that the learning method for schools in the next academic year is yet to be determined, and depends on the “health conditions” at hand.
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