Schools told to prepare for second wave

Schools told to prepare for second wave

Pandemic threatens kids' basic education

Academics have stressed the need for schools to prepare for a second wave of Covid-19 infections if they are to avoid further disruptions to the education of their students.

"The pandemic denied many children, particularly those in rural areas, learning and self-development opportunities," Dilaka Lathapipat, Human Development Economist for the Education Unit of the World Bank based in Bangkok, told a seminar late last week, according to notes from the event released to the media yesterday.

He suggested education-related units must urgently address this deficit while getting ready to deal with a possible resurgence of Covid-19 infections more efficiently. The economist was one of the speakers during Friday's "My School and Covid-19" online discussion arranged by the Princess Maha Chakri Award Foundation, the Ministry of Education and education organisations.

Mr Dilaka also warned that Thailand is not yet able to implement online learning, even for short periods, following the results of a survey that showed a stark digital divide between urban and rural children in terms of the equipment they have at their disposal to participate in remote learning.

While there are many factors that have an impact on the quality of education in Thailand, the overall level of state investment is far lower than others assessed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Students were also bullied at school more than other students in OECD countries, with the consequences ranging from higher levels of depression to lower literacy due to a resulting drop in attendance.

Chairman of the Princess Maha Chakri Award Foundation, Krissanapong Kirtikara, said the pandemic had also taken students out of their classrooms, hitting poorer students -- often the most in need of comprehensive support -- the hardest.

Meanwhile, Udom Wongsing, director of the educators' quality office at the Equitable Education Fund, said more than 100,000 teachers worldwide watched the discussion which was part of an online international academic conference.

During the event, Thai teachers had an opportunity to exchange views with teachers from 11 countries in Southeast Asia.

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