Investigating the Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on Existing Education Inequalities on a Global Scale
Sustainable Development Goals: 1, 3, 4, 10, 16
- SDG 1 - No Poverty
- SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
- SDG 4 - Quality Education
- SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
- SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
When investigating education inequality in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to look beyond restrictions to technology access to observe the full scope of the inequalities (or the worsening of inequalities) that may occur. The move of some school systems toward distance learning methods has incited conversation in the media about education inequality as it relates to access to technology. But what about the education inequalities that existed before the pandemic? How will these inequalities be impacted if at all? This study aimed to answer these questions by investigating the factors that perpetuate education inequalities and determining how these factors will increase the disadvantages certain students face to acquire a quality education during the pandemic. This paper investigates poverty, social biases, structural disadvantages, social capital, cultural practices, and the political climate as factors that perpetuate education inequalities. This paper also discusses how teachers are responding to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what actions they are calling to be taken in school systems locally and nationally. Since education inequality and COVID-19 are global issues, this study investigated the potential impacts of COVID-19 on existing education inequalities in the United States, Argentina, Nigeria, and Israel.
For this study, teachers and professors from the United States, Argentina, Nigeria, and Israel were emailed and interviewed for their contributions to this project. Interviews were held over zoom or completed through written responses by way of an email. The interviews conducted focused on their experiences with education inequality in their respective communities. The main focus of the interviews was to investigate factors that contribute and perpetuate education inequality, and to what extent they were addressed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Following these interviews, performance data (operationalized as post-secondary school enrollment, test scores, etc.) was gathered for each country being investigated using outside sources including UNESCO and the Economic Policy Institute.
- Students who already experienced the inequalities in education resulting from poverty, lack of social capital, and structural disadvantages are at the highest risk for falling further behind in their educational attainment and performance outcomes.
- Educational performance gaps between genders and racial-ethnic groups face risks of widening. This is a result of many factors of which include mental health stressors, lack of social capital, and the allocation of resources within communities that predominantly serve these demographics.
- Mental health is a key concern for many teachers as they proceed into the new school year. Many students are facing increased financial burden, instability, and in some cases trauma, all of which can have adverse effects on motivation and education retention.