Stead Sellers, co-author of The Washington Post Newspaper, interviewed UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. Fore made many important points about distance education during the pandemic in this interview. We have compiled the important topics in the interview for you.
Henrietta Fore started her speech by talking about the education crisis experienced by the whole world due to the pandemic. He stated that before the pandemic period, there were actually great deficiencies in education. Previous research by the World Bank reveals that children do not have the ability to read and fully understand a paragraph until they are 10 years old. In a way, this is proof that even if the kids go to school and the elbow rots at the beginning of the queue, they cannot learn things properly.
Indicating that the education crisis that existed with the onset of the pandemic, while the situation was like this before the pandemic period, Fore stated that the whole world should seek solutions in this issue. He underlined that the first step to be taken in this process is the internet connection in terms of increasing access to education. Fore stated that having an internet connection in every school around the world means that every child has access to education.
Last year, children dropped out of school, which naturally led to an education deficit. Stating that children should return to school as soon as possible to close this gap, Fore also said that teachers should be in the priority group for vaccination, just like healthcare professionals. As for the vaccination of children, Pfizer recently announced that their vaccines are 100 percent effective in children aged 12 and over. Fore said that thanks to these developments, he predicts that face-to-face training in the northern hemisphere could begin in September.
Fore shared his thoughts on adapting to distance education with the following sentences: “Distance education is something that the whole world is just beginning to learn. I think we will understand and learn how the subject of distance learning is progressing. At the same time, we will understand the importance of artificial intelligence and different ways of learning. They can be cell phones, radio, television or tablet. We have to understand and learn technology no matter what. “
Stating that the public and private sectors should cooperate in terms of access to education, Fore stated that the education programs developed should be placed on platforms that can be easily accessed by teachers and schools. In some Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, distance education is carried out on television. It is known that the rate of television access in rural areas in these countries is quite low compared to cities. “In the event of such an inequality, other tools are naturally needed,” Fore said. says.
It is a fact that the radio, which is another of these tools, is not available in every home. On the other hand, underlining that mobile phones are not sufficient in this regard, Fore said, “Consider that there is only one mobile phone in a family. All parents and children have to use this phone at some point, and probably one of the children will have problems in actively following his lessons.” said. Stating that during this period, a great responsibility falls on the public and private sectors, Fore said that if we make it our mission to solve this problem for young people, for the next generation, we can emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic both qualitatively and quantitatively in the field of education only through cooperation.
Stating that we do not fully understand the effects of the pandemic on our mental health, Fore stated that there is not enough research done on this subject. He emphasized that we do not fully understand how this process affects children, adolescents and us, staying away from school and spending time at home all the time has really great effects. “Most children have never gone through such a process before. The school was a children’s safe zone. It was a place where friends and people could talk. In the previous period, there was physical, psychological or sexual violence in some homes. Now this violence has given way to online violence. Here’s how the children were with this.” The issue that he copes with, how they can be educated, how they can keep themselves and their friends safe is a really big problem. So far, no one has dealt with it properly. ” said.
Fore said that as adults we can see that the mental health of our friends, colleagues, and family has been adversely affected in this process, but we need to realize that this has even greater effects on children and especially adolescents. Fore concluded his words with the following sentences: “What gives me hope is the young people. They are full of dreams and excitement, they see the world as a better and stronger place. And this is the world we have to leave to them. Therefore, the COVID pandemic is strong and together from these difficult days. dating is a great time to change the world. “
Compiled and translated by: Dilara Preserve
Reference: The Washington Post. A Conversation with UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. Taken from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live/2021/03/31/transcript-conversation-with-unicef-executive-director-henrietta-fore/