Prior to the pandemic, the world was already facing significant difficulties in realising the pledge of education as a fundamental human right, according to the United Nations. Despite virtually universal enrolment in early grades in most countries, more than 250 million children were out of school and nearly 800 million adults were illiterate.
The effects of the pandemic have limited nations from making progress on the matter of upholding initiatives around education. 190 countries have experienced full or partial school closures as a result of the crisis with the World Bank estimating that over 1.7 billion students have been directly or indirectly affected by the closure of educational institutions.
But as we in the UK begin to move slowly towards freeing up the economy, and reopening services, what are the learnings we can take from the past year? And how can we help ensure students globally are able to recover from interruptions in their education? They’re tough questions to answer, and I definitely not an expert in education, however, governments both regionally and nationally, alongside some great business have begun working through the extent to which we can answer them. Here are some of (in my opinion) the best EdTech initiatives.
Outschool is an online learning environment with a focus on practical education. It’s essentially a marketplace where parents, students and teachers can virtually join live vocational classes, social events and experiences.
The programme is currently available in 174 countries, making its reach a viable option for engaging children in developing nations with appropriate internet connectivity. The financial win for Teachers is also present throughout the platform, with them reportedly taking a 70% cut of video class income. Providing them with an additional source of income alongside typical teaching remuneration packages.
Guide Education was established by a UK Headteacher who earned the government's 'Outstanding' mark for his school on several occasions. The company seeks to help educators all over the world access learning and mentoring with ease. The company has released multiple products that work to assist both teachers and students with educational material and development. The company is now pushing the boundaries of interactive training material that it calls “Netflix for teacher training”. The company is looking to use deep fake technology to improve the way in which training content is delivered and provide a launchpad for teachers to create engaging online content.
While Hero Vired is still in development, it holds great promise. The platform currently being created by a team headed by Akshay Munjal is centred on helping people upskill into careers currently short-fulfilled by current education systems. Ashkay hopes the platform, which has attracted partnerships with renowned educational institutions like MIT will bring new life to the tech sector, including financial technology, game design, machine learning, artificial intelligence, design and entrepreneurial thinking.
What this means for the future
The pandemic has put into perspective the necessity that is diversification of our current education system. With internet speeds and accessibility increasing across the developing world, we’re beginning to see the right kinds of conversations being had around when we educate and how. Traditional pathways into the careers are beginning to become less defined, and attitudes are opening up to new ways of achieving qualifications pertinent to entering the workforce.
A recent London Economics School study found that 47% of 1000 people surveyed wanted to change careers, with 34% naming job satisfaction as a main contributing factor. With a change in interpretation of how career and life decisions are made, as well as the proliferation of technology in both developed and developing nations, there’s a growing need for freedom to change paths within working life and move onto career types that better fit the needs of the worker.
In any case, an increase in the means by which people can access education, whatever stage of life is positive. Continuing to develop a society that is open to the changing tides of how we share information and provide quality education is essential to providing both young people and adults with the future they deserve.