COVID-19 Emergency Education Policy and Learning Loss: A Comparative Study

Year: 2021

Author: De Souza, Denise, Vongalis-Macrow, Athena

Type of paper: Individual Paper

In response to the constantly changing conditions and challenges in conducting research during COVID-19, this study undertook a scoping review.  This type of review entails rapidly mapping significant concepts in a complex and under-reviewed area of interest, then identifying relevant sources and the availability of evidence.  A range of international education policies from over 30 countries in five regions, submitted in a repository maintained by UNESCO and the International Institute of Educational Planning (IIEP), were selected for the review.The scoping review aimed to summarize, compare, and disseminate the different international educational and associated health responses to curriculum, teaching and learning made during the pandemic.  The significance is to inform policy planning, policymaking, and practices in ongoing and future pandemic planning scenarios. Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) 5-stage framework for conducting a scoping review was adopted to investigate the following questions:How did countries, in the 5 regions reviewed, respond to curricula, learning, and teaching demands in a pandemic-constrained environment? Based on countries’ responses, what might be inferred about the extent of learning loss in school education during the period of inquiry?Steps in the 5-stage framework include formulating the review question, identifying potentially relevant policies, selecting those that respond to the review question, charting the data, and finally reporting the findings.The findings highlighted that a broad range of strategies—relating to (i) educational content and delivery, (ii) defining teachers’ roles and (iii) professional development to help them transition to teaching beyond the classroom, (iv) supporting vulnerable students and their families, and (v) fostering student learning and well-being—were adopted variably by countries, to enable the continuation of learning and ensure the health and safety of all students.  The results also indicated that that there is an expectation of learning loss in the countries reviewed.  The full extent of this learning loss, however, is yet to be discernible given that education in the COVID-19 pandemic era is still unfolding.Rapid scoping reviews are useful in providing a quick and short-term overview of the variety of strategies discernible in governmental educational responses during COVID-19.  The differing responses may be due to contextual constraints but may also indicate different degrees of emergency preparedness.  Similar to the global health response, led by organizations such as WHO, education would benefit from a global educational response framework to minimize the unevenness in learning continuity and the exacerbation of learning loss, possibly stemming from lack of emergency preparedness.