With the pandemic still producing new variants and social issues affecting the U.S., its education system suffers. Children and the youth can’t return to school freely. They’re also affected by issues surrounding the country.
It’s unfortunate, almost tragic that experts believe that the country’s education system is not designed to address the challenges it’s facing. In fact, according to Fernando Reimers, member of UNESCO’s commission on the Futures of Education and director of Harvard University’s Global Education Innovation Initiative, in a report by CNBC, it’s concerning that there’s a gap between education and the challenges it faces in the U.S.
Based on the CNBC report, UNESCO has enumerated four challenges that the international education system is facing, affecting the country’s education system as well. Added to this, new variants of the coronavirus are keeping children out of school. Finally, the curriculum seems to be outdated compared to education systems from other countries.
These problems are currently the challenges that the country’s education system should address. In today’s article, find out what experts are saying about these issues and the solutions they are suggesting.
Covid-19 and Staff Outages
School districts and families across the U.S. have faced a challenging semester. It seemed that everything would go back to normal as schools re-opened and started to provide in-person instruction on a daily basis. This happened several times. Unfortunately, disruptions occurred throughout, according to a U.S. News report.
First, many staff members and children were exposed to the coronavirus, forcing them to quarantine. Parents meanwhile argued and complained over numerous matters, highlighting public health and race issues. And then, teachers had to contend with students exhibiting misbehavior bordering violence. All of this has taken a toll on teachers, resulting in staff shortages in many districts.
As the semester closes, the country is now confronting omicron. The more transmissible COVID-19 variant makes some schools shut their doors again while others prepare for a return to online classes. Education experts have already expressed their disdain over virtual learning, citing its inefficiencies and inability to encourage academic recovery.
Thankfully, there are some solutions that experts are suggesting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new “test-to-stay” policy in which unvaccinated students can stay in school even if they are exposed to the virus. This replaces the CDC guideline enforcing exposed students to quarantine for ten days before returning to school. With the new policy, however, exposed students must test negative to be allowed to come to school.
Added to this, according to the U.S. News report, experts are suggesting increased access to high-quality mental health care for students, vaccination of more staff and students, increased testing, and continued wearing of masks. At home, they urge parents to prevent their kids from being exposed to unvaccinated people or have holiday guests test negative before mingling with their children.
The current curriculum in schools has been implemented since 1918. Little has changed with the structure of classes and how lessons are taught.
While the content of classes has somewhat improved with the inclusion of new scientific discoveries, literature, and historical events, core subjects such as English, math, science, and history have not been altered for over a century. Plus, there is lacking in pushing STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education in schools. Instead, students could only learn them in out-of-school curriculum, after-school classes, and school clubs.
In fact, a McKinsey and Company study mentioned in the U.S. News report revealed that majority-white schools and majority-black schools are two months and five months behind, respectively, in math and reading.
McKinsey and Company suggests increased tutoring, after-school academic activities, mental health counseling, academic summer school, and mentoring to support academic recovery.
However, it’s important to emphasize the need for safe learning venues. Parents should at least ensure that their kids are safe while studying in out-of-school programs. For example, an educational facility will be more conducive to learning if there are noise-reducing demountable glass partitions or other types to separate young, unvaccinated students from others.
According to UNESCO, in a CNBC report mentioned earlier, schools face the challenges of climate change, growing social inequality, democratic backsliding, and growing social fragmentation. The U.N. agency suggests the following solutions to help address all of this.
First, it believes that schools should partner with universities to develop curriculum that will educate future climate scientists early on. Collaboration with the business sector can also teach students the capacity and skills to address climate change, including the growing social inequality.
Second, UNESCO urges schools to include subjects tackling human rights in their curriculum. This will teach students to resolve differences in society without resorting to violence. This will help address democratic backsliding and the growing social fragmentation in communities.
Preparing Students for the Future
The U.S. education system should be improved and upgraded to prevent students from missing out on numerous opportunities that can lead to a brighter future. Hopefully, educational institutions will listen to what the experts have to say if they want students to be prepared for the future.