The socio-cultural implications of COVID-19
Professor Fethi Mansouri UNESCO Chairholder for Cultural Diversity and Social Justice at Deakin University Melbourne Australia and UNITWIN Convenor for Interreligious Dialogue and Intercultural Understanding shares his views on the sociocultural implications of COVID19
Interview with Fethi Mansouri - Advancing a new social contract in the post-Covid-19 era?
Professor Fethi Mansouri PhD UNESCO Chairholder Cultural Diversity and Social Justice at the Deakin University Melbourne Australia and UNITWIN Convenor Interreligious Dialogue and Intercultural Understanding IDIU shares his views on the impact of COVID19 on intercultural dialogue New forms of solidarity and dialogue are emerging at a time when social distancing seems to be the only efficient blockade to the pandemic At the same time massive economic disparities and access to health care are being pushed to the limit with inevitable consequences on the rise of racism and discriminations Are we ready to engage in a new social contract in view of the postCOVID19 era
Op-Ed by Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of UNHCR
Published in The Time magazine 26 March 2020 The COVID19 pandemic has caused a series of traumas that make each of us rethink the meaning of our humanity Efforts to slow the spread of the disease have demanded enormous sacrifices We have seen health care workers and others on the front lines put themselves at great risk without hesitation to protect all of us The decision to close schools is another significant sacrifice 87 of all the worlds students well over a billion and a half young people are now unable to attend class because of nationwide school closures in 165 countries As is so often the case with human nature when we are deprived of something its value becomes clear Education is about much more than just classroom learning For millions of children and youth schools are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield Classrooms offer protection or at least a reprieve from violence exploitation and other difficult circumstances In the US some 22 million children rely on school for the hot daily meal that stands between them and hunger In fragile countries school closures have the potential to be devastating and permanently derail childrens futures When schools shut down for more than a few weeks early marriages increase more children are recruited into militias sexual exploitation of girls and young women rises teenage pregnancies increase and child labor rises The converse is also true education significantly improves not only the life prospects of individuals but the stability and prosperity of whole societies Inequalities will only grow as days turn into weeks and weeks into months We see this most starkly in the global refugee population One in five refugees have been in displacement situations that have lasted 20 years or more more than the entire duration of a childs education Without urgent practical assistance some of the children left without schooling worldwide due to the coronavirus may never set foot in a classroom again We must find ways to try to ensure access to continuity of education for young people across the world recognizing the sheer scale of the challenge Today UNESCO is launching a new Global Education Coalition to galvanize the search for practical solutions We are urging international organizations civil society and private sector companies committed to responsible stewardship to participate The goal is to identify and share the best innovations to keep children learning during the pandemic and to help lay foundations for more inclusive and equitable approaches to education when the crisis subsides The main response to school closures is to turn to distance and online learning For a critical proportion of students schooling has suddenly come into the home and parents siblings caregivers family and close friends are finding themselves in the role of teacher alongside virtual instructors Many parents who are now working from home are also struggling to balance the demands of work with being a fulltime instructor These experiences remind us of the value of our teachers everyday work which many take for granted or too often criticize However not all young people are given the same remote learning opportunities Many households specifically in fragile countries lack the capacity technology infrastructure and financial resources to operate remote learning at scale Not all existing curricula are conceived to be taught remotely And the ability of parents to provide time and resources to facilitate learning at home varies hugely within and between countries These are formidable barriers The Global Coalition will strive to find ways to pool resources and expertise and channel free technology solutions and digital tools to those who need it We must speed up the ways we share experience and help the most vulnerable whether or not they have internet access Measures can be as sophisticated as national cloud platforms or as simple as radio programming and plain mobile applications that enable use offline using a mix of technology and community approaches depending on the local circumstances Vulnerable and disadvantaged children including girls the poor the disabled and displaced learners must be a particular priority They are the children most likely to miss out on learning or suffer a decline in their health and nutrition and learning development And they are most likely not to return to schools when these institutions reopen Education should also be protected from future austerity cuts Innovations are already occurring in response to school closures Peru is providing teaching material via TV and radio translated into 10 indigenous languages to help learners deal with isolation In Senegal the Ministry of National Education has launched the Apprendre à la maison learning from home initiative In the last few years scheme such as UNESCOs Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants have been introduced to help displaced people gain recognized qualifications These are some of the many innovations we can build upon But this moment should be about more than just shortterm steps to mitigate disruption and save lives The COVID19 crisis is a wakeup call for the international community as a whole including the United Nations Even before the pandemic 258 million children and youth were out of school worldwide There have been so many missed opportunities in the past This is a defining moment to rethink the future of education and the transformation that could be achieved through universal access to highquality education Today we must rise up to the previously unthinkable challenge of providing learning without schools But we also have an opportunity to reimagine education of the future We must seize it http httpstimecom5810017coronavirusschoolclosingseducationunesco