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Coronavirus and Schools: Accounts Chamber and World Experience

The Department of International and Regional Cooperation of the Accounts Chamber has prepared a digest on relevant materials from UNESCO, OECD and the World Bank on the impact of coronavirus on the school system.

Governments around the world have decided to close educational institutions in attempt to contain the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to UNESCO, 188 countries have closed schools nationwide, affecting 91.3% of students worldwide (1.58 billion people).

In some other countries, schools are closed at the local and regional levels.

Closing Schools, even temporary, has great social and economic consequences, especially for the poor.
1. Interrupted training.
2. Nutrition.
3. Problems in childcare.
4. High economic costs.
5. Additional burden on the health system.
6. Strengthening the burden on schools that remain open.
7. Students dropout rates tend to increase.
8. Social exclusion.

Common issues in the transition to a distance education system
1. At the moment, there are very few education systems (even among the most high-leveled) that have good technical support in order to make a quick transition to distance learning. More likely to succeed in countries where distance education was widely used before the pandemic.
2. The transition to distance learning is a huge cost.
3. The transition to distance education is a concern for social stratification.
4. Most students will have difficulties transitioning to distance education. That means that for most pupils and students, education will be less beneficial.
5. When switching to distance learning, you need to keep in mind that at first, students will show weaker results.
6. Educational institutions will face the problem in choosing which subjects to teach online and which to leave for students to learn independently. Some subjects, school activities and approaches will be difficult to transfer to the online environment.
7. Only some teachers will be able to make a quick and effective transition to an online learning model, since the teaching processes are far off and in the classroom. In this regard, teachers will need support and additional training.
8. In the context of distance learning, parents play a key role in supporting their children. Even under the most favorable circumstances, most parents are ill-equipped to provide effective support.
9. Decision makers are more dependent on two factors: the preparedness to the existing education system for the transition to online education and the amount of time before the closure of educational institutions.

Long term opportunities
In the long run, additional tasks will appear for the [relevant] departments:
1. Improve the security system to be able to pass exams online.
2. Experiment with different time frames and teaching models.
3. Empower teachers to get the most out of their digital education system.

Conclusions and recommendations
1. In order to reduce the burden of caring for children on citizens employed in critical industries (doctors, pharmacists, police, firefighters, transport workers, etc.), it is necessary to open schools and kindergartens for these children categories of citizens.
2. In order to ensure continuous and universal education, it is necessary to deploy a national electronic educational platform and provide students with access to it (electronic devices, Internet access).
3. Take measures to prevent the increase in the number of street children.
4. Remove administrative barriers for the international exchange of knowledge and experience, scientific research in the field of development of a vaccine and medicine against COVID-19, tests for the accelerated detection of coronavirus.

Gusman Mikhail Solomonovich

First Deputy General Director of TASS, Chairman of the Russian Committee for the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication

Du Toit Jaco

Programme Specialist Section for Universal Access and Preservation Communication and Information Sector UNESCO

Borisov Alexey Nikolaevich

Vice President of the World Federation of the UN Associations, Head of the UNESCO Chair of MGIMO

Chukov Roman Sergeevich

Chair of the Board of the “Russian Center for Promotion of International Initiatives”