Baptiste Poupart-Lafarge

Education Analyst

Students are faced with unprecedented difficulties. And here is what the government can do to help.

The Covid-19 has proved to be one of the most challenging crises of recent world history, causing the death of nearly 2,5 million people according to the WHO on the 22nd February 2021. However, the set up of restrictions to tackle the pandemic did not remain without consequences in many areas of public life. One that has been particularly impacted is the educational sphere, where students that would usually have had lessons together in close spaces, and meet one another between classes, have been sent home to study online.

Distance learning courses caused two-stage damages. The first affected were the underprivileged social classes, and gradually the mental health of young people became a real concern.

Access to digital resources is limited for many families, about 30 to 40% do not have optimal access to materials. Moreover, teacher support has been easily replaced by parents who have the capacity to do so, while others have sometimes found themselves alone in the face of mounting difficulties.

Some never even met other classmates because of online teaching and don’t have a feeling to be part of university… Some still do not realize that they miss going to class!On the other hand, a minority of students found themselves at an advantage in this situation, saving time, being able to shape their timetable, and even some students describe having had an extra motivation to participate in lessons given the virtual absence of the other students’ gaze.

Despite the efforts of most teachers and governments, there are increasing warnings, especially seen on social networks.

Students describe dramatic situations, feeling that their life lost its meaning. The routine is hellish, interactions become exclusively digital. Temptations become the common enemy. Bad news accumulates at Twitter speed and lack of motivation seems to be the second virus. This lockdown has therefore not only revealed inequalities but has also amplified them.

The current solutions implemented by the governments are long and inconclusive. Some teachers stand out for their devotion, while others drop out. The collective movement is struggling to remove its cloak of invisibility.There is an absolute necessity to provide integrality in lessons for students, some of whom could see their ambitions crumble in the absence of a teacher during this period. It is therefore important for the state to centralize education in order to provide a homogeneous education. This can be done in this way.

The first step is to digitize the programs, for example, to provide video clips available everywhere and for everyone and used by teachers. We can also involve psychologists in classes to give advice to students on how to take care of their mental health. It is also possible to imagine television channels broadcasting lessons by subject and level.

Teachers would therefore no longer have to give lessons, but only concentrate on accompanying students, explaining the content, and also improve their personalized follow-up for the students. The second step is obviously access to digital technology, it is necessary to open libraries, as well as workrooms for students having trouble with their IT equipment. It is also necessary to speed up the distribution of material, as well as computer training for students and teachers.

To the extent that many students struggle to pay their fees (rent, tuition fees, daily charges), It becomes complicated for students to invest in computer equipment. Thus, I propose that the local authorities provide computer grants for all families in difficulty. If the situation is experienced differently for each individual, the collective suffers, and the young people pay for it. Increasing school dropouts, rising depression, and extreme solitude, when are we going to help the students out of the nightmare in which they are locked up and don’t seem ready to come out?