International Cooperation is Essential to Guarantee Education for All
- 7 September 2020
Amid widespread disruption to various sectors of society due to COVID-19, none might pose as great a danger as that resulting from the impact on the education sector. This disruption doesn’t affect the present in isolation, or the continuity and sustainability of societies and countries in the short-term, rather it poses a chronic threat to the future of the current school-going generation. This generation is the basis on which development and civilizational progress relies.
Disruption to the economy directly affects the lives of people, creating a shortage of commodities and interrupting services, limiting the public’s daily routines, and forcing them to forgo some luxuries and amenities. However, this can be addressed through government support for the private sector and other measures, as these repercussions are limited in terms of duration. The economy can rebound, unlike education, which is based on the delicate and long-term process of building and nurturing minds.
Despite the exceptional circumstances created by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, including worldwide lockdowns and strict preventive and precautionary measures, such as travel bans, the leading countries of the world have committed themselves to the continuity of the education process. They have shown great interest in ensuring that learning continues unabated, leveraging all available capabilities to provide alternatives to direct physical learning. This enabled students to complete the curricula of the school year. As the new academic year begins, solutions and options that fit the reality and capabilities of each society have been developed, so that learning can continue despite the epidemiological situation and changing rates of infection.
The importance that should be accorded to the education process globally was highlighted by G20 education ministers during their recent extraordinary meeting. They stressed the imperative of sustaining education continuity for all during crises, as well as the need to support individual and collective efforts to mitigate the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on education. They said this was essential, given the indispensable role that education plays in enabling people to harness the opportunities of the 21st century.
The statement released after the meeting reaffirmed the uncontested truth that education is a fundamental human right. Education constitutes the basis of personal development and enables people to achieve further advancement. Any disruption to the education process will therefore negatively affect the capabilities of young people, their skills, and psychological and mental aptitudes to deal with the requirements and developments of life.
The UAE has been proactive in ensuring education continuity, providing a safe and conducive environment for its students to resume their education uninterrupted. To that end, the UAE has made a great effort to roll out multiple systems and options to ensure that school and university students can resume their education, and at the same time, protect them from the pandemic, by stopping the spread of the virus in educational facilities. It is a pioneering effort that is built on full awareness and unlimited understanding of the importance of education in enhancing the UAE’s development progress.
The coronavirus pandemic is a temporary crisis that will be overcome, but humanity will prevail. The process of education and discovery should not be halted. All countries of the world must therefore enhance their cooperation to ensure that pupils and students, regardless of their location, have access to learning and adequate education resources. Furthermore, all capabilities should be deployed to ensure the smooth flow of the education process.