Equity, Research, Well-being

COVID-19 Created a Crisis in Education: What Did We Learn?

During the last few years, we saw over 90 percent of the world’s student population affected by school closures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has created a world crisis in education and reminds us how quickly rights can be taken away. UNESCO, the UN agency responsible for education, science and culture, responded by launching the COVID-19 Global Education Coalition to help countries reach at-risk children and youth.

Meanwhile in Canada, 5.7 million students in primary and secondary school were impacted by school closures over the last three years. Statistics Canada identified that this had a big impact on the academic success, mental and physical health, and socio-economic status of children. From an inclusion and diversity lens, COVID-19 was particularly detrimental to members of some populations who were overrepresented among the most vulnerable groups.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) responded by gathering free and accessible online educational resources to share with teachers, students and parents across the country. It has also collaborated with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) to support UNESCO’s work in collecting information on the impact of the pandemic in education. Lastly, CCUNESCO most recently launched an Expert Working Group to explore the various impacts of the pandemic by province and territory.

As most of you know, education is a provincial and territorial jurisdiction in Canada. It is therefore of upmost importance that we share with each other lessons learned and opportunities gained during the pandemic. Innovations in one region should be shared and celebrated across the country, as well as ongoing challenges that need to be faced. We hope to continue to gather and collaborate with all education stakeholders in Canada. Only by working together can we create a future for education that is inclusive, accessible and sustainable.

First published in Education Canada, April 2023

Meet the Expert(s)

Roda Muse

Secretary General, Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Roda Muse has more than 20 years of experience in the federal public service, where she held several leadership positions. She was a school board trustee fr...

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