The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) opened the COVID Slide situation and found the students in the United States had to stay home for a long time. This resulted in students’ learning loss in the 50% of math knowledge and 30% of reading skills. Academics fear the long-term impacts on learning development and well-being of Thai children, suggesting coping in the last 3 months of the 63 Semester. Students must be assessed on an individual basis to enhance child development, reduce learning loss and monitor children drop out during the academic year. The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) launched “Black Box: Self-learning materials for the 21st century” to help children without access to the Internet. It was delivered to extraordinarily poor primary school children in five red-zone provinces while ‘Kerry Express-MK-Nestle’ joined hands with the EEF to help crisis-affected children and youth.
Dr. Poomsaran Thongliamnak
an education economist at the Equitable Education Research Institute (EEFI).
On January 18th 2021, the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) held a press conference on COVID Slide: Impact of Thai Children’s Learning and Management Guidelines for ‘School Closures but Unblock Learning’ by Dr. Poomsarun Thongliamnak, an education economist at the Equitable Education Research Institute (EEFI). Discussing the results of the COVID Slide as the phenomenon showed that the COVID-19 situation has resulted in many schools having to close in many countries, called “Summer Slide” which took place during the summer. And from the ongoing situation, the phenomenon referred as the COVID Slide that students had to leave school for a long time, causing the learning loss. The research from the NWEA found that students in the United State who spent a lot of time at home could be losing 50% of math skills and 30% of reading skills. Even among wealthy and affluent students, an abundance of screen time may affect mental health, social and emotional development. This was consistent with the research from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, learning through educational technologies alone would not be achieved. Effects of not attending school include: learning loss, lack of social experience, malnutrition, social services or age-appropriate learning.
Dr. Poomsarun said that although Thailand had not yet released a study on the impact of COVID Slide, from the trend of international studies above, it was enough to predict the same effect on educational inequality. There were two important issues in educational inequality: 1) the problem of dropping out from the educational system; 2) a lack of learning development due to learning loss and the health of at-risk youths in the educational system. Especially for poor or disadvantaged children, children in remote areas, children with disabilities and children with special educational needs, these would widen the educational inequality in the gap between urban and rural areas more than two academic years. In the long term, this may affect the problem of economic inequality that leaded to the cycle of poverty-one generation to the next.
Dr. Kraiyas Phatrawat
Deputy Managing Director of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF)
Dr. Kraiyas Phatrawat, Deputy Managing Director of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), said the situation of inequality in education in Thailand before COVID-19 showed that the educational inequality among the poorest households three years ago tended to be good, increased from lower weight and height ratio and lower absenteeism rate. This was the result of cooperation of the public, private and society. In particular, teachers jointly searched for children with an information system to support the screening. However, when the new wave of COVID-19 emerged, many educational institutions had to close. From the first and second semesters, 40 percent of the academic year was required for students to study from home. There were 143,507 cases of extra-poor children in the 28 red and dark-red zone provinces. In this number, part of them had to go out to work to earn money. Some places had limited access to technology although in early January, the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) joins hands with the Ministry of Education, the Border Patrol Police and the Department of Local Administration to implement the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to prevent 900,000 extra-poor students from dropping out of the education system.
“What was worrisome was the risk that children were a lack of learning development due to learning loss and deterioration of health, so it took the last three months of the academic year to find the youth affected by the COVID Slide. Measures that should be taken were: 1) when teaching started on February 1, teachers should examine the physical development and learning of individual children if there was a decline or not; 2) Supplementary classes or After school programme for learners who lack the development due to learning loss before moving into other grades; 3) Monitoring educational connections in all grade levels, starting from Grade 1, Grade 7, Grade 10 or Vocational Certificate, especially for poor youth in areas where there was no school to support. This crisis can be turned into an opportunity to reform the education system. From the past, children had to overcome various obstacles to find education, changing to education for all groups of children equally and sustainably. The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has information on individual children with detailed location records in the iSEE information system in collaboration with schools to jointly monitor and support scholarships. For the youth outside the educational system, there were provincial mechanisms and 61 network organizations working to reach children and youth in terms of their lives and prepare them to return to flexible education or vocational training,” said Dr. Kraiyas
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thanyawich Vichenpant
the director of the Office of Research and Innovation Development, Sripatum University at Chonburi Campus
For innovative learning for youths in the education system with limited access to learning, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thanyawich Vichenpant, the director of the Office of Research and Innovation Development, Sripatum University at Chonburi Campus said that the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) and the Office of Research and Innovation Developmenr, Sripatum University at Chonburi Campus developed Black Box: learning materials for the 21st century to keep learning for children without access to technology during some temporary school closures. The black box learning was designed as an ‘offline’ lesson, not relying primarily on the internet. The highlight of the black box was the lessons that children can choose their own time to study according to their interests, not necessarily in the order. The lessons were integrated from various subjects that were essential for life, connecting the interests of the stories around students and their family to the community they lived in under 4 subjects covering the fundamentals of learning essentially, namely Innovation and Technology, Society and Humanity, Research Methodology and Vocational Education.
Mrs. Onuma Jamjedriew, the principle of Banaomrongheep School, Samut Sakhon Province, said that after teachers surveyed parents about their children’s learning styles, it was found that most parents were convenient by allowing teachers to lead their learning through worksheets as much as possible. Many parents found it difficult for their children to learn online because they did not have expertise in using the system, lack of equipment and many children cannot study at the same time. The school’s limitation at this time was the learning materials that schools needed the most because we had to adapt teaching strategies and use a lot of resources in printing worksheets for teaching and many families were not comfortable and not ready to use technology.
In this press conference, the learning box or Black Box: learning materials for the 21st century, it was delivered to youths in the education system with limited access to learning in 5 pilot provinces, namely Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Ayutthaya, Phetchaburi and Kanchanaburi and 15,000 “Fighting the Crisis for Children” survival bags, consisting of essential equipment for living and protective equipment in 15 days during the COVID-19 situation such as rice, chicken eggs, vegetable oil, canned fish, alcohol, cloth face masks for youth lacking opportunities outside the education system in 28 provinces. Professor Dr. Sompong Jitradap, as a consultant for the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), provided Black Box: learning materials for the 21st century toKerry Express to deliver to youth affected by education. Mr. Seetala Chanvised, Head of Marketing communication Kerry Express, was the representative to receive them. Meanwhile, MK Restaurant Group Public Company Limited joined to support “Memberry”, a milk product mixed with berry extract, amounting to 75,000 cartons of milk and Nestle (Thai) Co., Ltd. supported “KoKo Krunch Duo”, breakfast cereal products, amounting to 400 boxes of cereal.