Quality education is crucial for the growth and development of every society. This explains why educational systems, development, issues, and challenges are constant topics in most economies worldwide. A solid education system is primarily responsible for the quality of any country’s human resource base. It’s also this human resource base that holds up the country.
The Asian education system has long earned the right to be called advanced in several ways. Schools in different countries of the continent have quality lecturers, quality study materials, friendly student-teacher relationships, etc. Asian schools have also expanded access, diversified their curricula, and experimented with new instructional systems.
Supplementary education is also a major feature of the Asian system. Under this structure, students receive tutoring separate from their formal and institutional educational system. For example, China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore have significant numbers of primary school kids receiving supplementary education.
The Asian Education System and the Covid-19 Pandemic
Practically, no societal concept can be analyzed without considering the Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on the concept. That’s also the case with the Asian education system. Notably, the Covid virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China. So, its first impacts were felt in China and other parts of the world.
The struggle for the Asian education sector was between maintaining the school calendars and protecting kids from the virus. Countries were desirous of strengthening and improving their education systems, as they were. Fortunately, though, students’ safety won, and schools around Asia had to limit face-to-face teaching during the pandemic.
Online Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic
When Asian countries had to lock down their countries during the pandemic, they also had to devise means to keep their schools running. Indeed, Asian education systems aren’t new to EdTech and online learning. However, very few schools worldwide have ever had to transfer their entire operations online.
Therefore, schools were marching into a fresh dimension of education and technology. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covi-19 virus a pandemic and Asian countries started initiating lockdowns, schools had to push back their resumption dates. Then, everything had to be moved online.
These included school curricula, teaching modules, grading structures, etc. In addition, students needed to connect to classes from home on their devices.
Challenges of Online Learning in the Asian Education System
Asia, like other continents, was able to pull off the online move for its education system. However, this wasn’t without multiple challenges and setbacks. These challenges have also persisted beyond the lockdown era. So, below, we’ll analyze some of these challenges to understand the current scenario of the Asian education system.
Reduced Education Satisfaction
Like other types of products, you can also measure consumer education satisfaction. So, despite online learning innovations, Southeast Asian students still experienced a sharp decline in their education satisfaction. The region recorded only 63% education satisfaction for 2020. Similarly, South Asia recorded 77%, while East Asia had a 70% satisfaction rate. Notably, these low results are also primarily attributed to the Southeast countries of the Philippines and Indonesia.
Internet Connectivity Issues
The internet penetration rate in Asia for 2021 was just under 66%. This means that a significant percentage of the Asian population doesn’t have access to the internet. Consequently, many students couldn’t keep up with online learning and other EdTech tools that the continent implemented during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Gender Disparities in Accessing Edtech Opportunities
There’s also a gender gap in accessingEdTech opportunities. For example, women in South Asia are 36% less likely to use the internet than men. This is a 50% reduction from the 2019 figure. However, it still reduces affected children’s access to opportunities for online learning. Several barriers also inform this data, such as social norms and gender discrimination issues.
Mental Health Issues
School closure also affected the mental health of many Asian children and many other children worldwide. A UNICEF survey found that 1 in 5 young people aged 15-24 said they felt depressed or lost interest in doing things. The problem is primarily in disrupting routines, education, and recreation.
In addition, children have had to worry about family income and health. Consequently, many such kids report feeling afraid, angry and worried about the future. As a result, these children are now left with mental disorders such as to conduct disorders, eating disorders, depression, intellectual instability, etc.
Resumption of Asian Schools
The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t yet over. So, many people are justifiably wondering why school resumption is a subject of debate. However, UNICEF says that school closures have affected 325 million children across East Asia and the Pacific due to the pandemic. In some countries, children stay completely out of school. So, UNICEF recommended that it was time to reopen Asian schools.
This is primarily because the longer kids stay out of school, the harder it’ll be for them to return. UNESCO already estimated that a minimum of 2.7 million children across the region would not return to school once schools reopen. It would also seem like Asian countries are heeding this counsel. For example, South Korea resumed full-time in-person classes in late November 2021.
This was the first full resumption since the country started fighting Covid in early 2020. South Korea is reportedly the first country to have a major Covid-19 outbreak after China, and this decision came only after the majority of its population was vaccinated.
In 2020 and 2021, Asian schools had waves of reopening and closing. However, it appears that only South Korea has fully resumed physical classes since 2021 ended. Other Asian countries may also watch the Korean trend and join in if the country is successful.
The education sector is one of the most hit by the necessary lockdowns following the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the education sector is one of the hardest to run totally online. That’s why advanced schools in well-developed countries are eager to resume physical learning at every opportunity. So, hopefully, many other Asian schools will copy South Korean and resume physical classes alongside online learning.