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Event: Reopening schools with re-imagined learning

On 6th August, Education Development Trust joined the EdTech Hub to co-host an online event: ‘Reopening schools with re-imagined learning’. The webinar convened world experts in education to discuss visions for better learning as schools around the world begin to reopen following widespread closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the event, Tony McAleavy, EdDevTrust’s Director of Research, joined experts from NGOs and government to discuss changes to education around the world as a result of the pandemic – both changes that are already becoming evident, and potential new visions for learning environments in the post-Covid world. The panelists – Wambura Kimunya (CEO Eneza Education), Jim Ackers (UNICEF ROSA), Sonam Wangchuk (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh), and Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury (Deputy Minister of Education, Bangladesh), and Tony McAleavy – each presented their vision for possible transformations to education systems following the return to school or for successful school reopening. Across all the contributions, there were several emergent themes: specifically, the leveraging of appropriate technology, increased student engagement, and the need for broad community and stakeholder buy-in for meaningful change.  

Representing EdDevTrust, Tony McAleavy highlighted that our review of policy responses indicates that in many countries, school reopening plans are chaotic, confused, or even non-existent, but even where they do exist, the aspiration to return to ‘normal’ is – in many contexts – misplaced. Normal, pre-Covid, was far from ideal for many pupils and teachers, especially in low-income countries. In some places, class sizes can reach 75 pupils or more per teacher, meaning that teachers are forced to spend the majority of their time controlling the class, rather than helping individual students to understand content and further their learning.  However, with some re-imagining of the school system, this scenario could be transformed: at EdDevTrust, we are considering approaches to a return to school in resource-poor contexts with safe, staggered attendance, giving students less frequent but more concentrated – and more motivating – time with their teacher, with an increased emphasis on community-based, technology-enabled learning in hygienic spaces. The latter is more likely to be feasible than home learning in resource-poor settings, as it increases the accessibility of communications technology, such as computers, televisions or radios.

We are delighted to have co-hosted this fascinating panel – which you can watch in full here – and we look forward to furthering this conversation moving forwards.