In this week’s edition of Where Parents Talk with Lianne Castelino on 105.9 The Region, discussion topics include: examining the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the education system in Canada and in other countries through the perspective of Irvin Studin, father of three, chair of the Worldwide Commission to Educate All Kids and President of the Institute for 21st-Century Questions, and editor-in-chief and publisher of Global Brief Magazine.
Q: In a piece that you wrote recently that appeared in Globe and Mail you described Canada as having suffered, quote, the darkest pedagogical period in modern history as a result of COVID-19. Can you paint a picture for us of what that impact looks like?
I think the education catastrophe in Canada is the biggest catastrophe of our multiple catastrophes during the pandemic and the one with the longest tentacles for the long term. It has both moral and strategic consequences moral for the lives of hundreds of 1000s of young people in strategic for the future of our country, if we don’t have educated young people, or if young people are painfully on educated. So here we are, the pandemic catastrophe in pedagogy had two elements.
First of all, when schools were closed around the world in March, last year, this was the most simultaneous policy our coordinated, let me say, mimicked policy action. in world history, schools around the world were closed almost at the same time. Without countries talking to each other, it was just instinctual. And that was the easiest things to think to close, and it was done with the best of intention.
We didn’t know what the code pandemic was at the time, we have a much better idea right now. But the immediate consequence of that was that many students went home, went back to their villages around the world went into the workforce went into all sorts of crevices in life from which they would not emerge, they left school permanently. In India, the number of students who left school permanently as a result of the school closures is 100 million, at least in the United States is 15 to 20 million in Canada, it’s about 200,000.
On my calculations, I think it might be higher, but 200 1000s is a reasonable estimate. We call these kids third bucket kids. These are the same kids who wouldn’t work in our parks in our arenas, soccer pitches, basketball courts, parks, malls, but a year and a half ago, soon as the school closed for a host of reasons. And over time, of course, they would leave school permanently in many cases never to return again. I repeat 200,000 kids on a global student population Canada of 5 million, that is catastrophic, it’s a moral catastrophe, because these kids can just simply not do well in post pandemic life. And secondly, how are we to talk about a serious post pandemic Canada with this huge, sudden underclass of regular kids, rich and poor alike who are not educated so we’ll talk about how that happened. That’s the first element.
The second element, of course, is just huge learning loss for everyone else who was in the system due to poor teaching capabilities, online schooling, absence of discipline, lack of structure on off again, schooling, disappearance of ambition, standards, and such. So the catastrophe is twofold.
Again, it is the third bucket kids who are not in the first bucket, physical schooling, not on the second bucket online schooling, there are no schooling at all, and massive learning loss and together they they cause they constitute what I think is the major calamity of the pandemic period for our country.