Integrating Sustainability and Well-Being Oriented Programs Are Now More Crucial than Ever

Author | Saron Yohannes | Canada

While the much anticipated end of this pandemic is approaching, it is worth remembering that its effects on education and students will last for years to come. Previous long term school shutdowns had compounding effects on learning. According to a recent McKinsey report1, the impact of disruptions from school, based on Pakistan’s 2005 Earthquake, showed 1.5 years of difference in learning and performance 4 years aftermath, which is shown to widen over time. So, this is an issue that we have to deal with for years to come. “Unless we work to improve remote and hybrid learning, students can end up significantly behind and opportunity gaps will widen”1. Especially for disadvantaged families who have limited access to technology and resources.

Now, this can be a potential opportunity to create and integrate virtual afterschool programs. Expanding the school day by offering programming and learning opportunities after school will give students a chance to learn essential skills they can apply to their daily lives. Covering topics in areas of home economy, social and emotional learning, sustainable living, and the environment can mitigate and improve the current learning experience of all students. It fosters social learning and allows students to collaborate with others on interests other than mandatory academics.

The value of afterschool programs is already an initiative being widely discussed after the election of Kamala Harris, as the future Vice President of the United States. One of her mandates is to provide funding to create high quality afterschool programs as an “after-care” to help families with a single parent or both parents have to work.
Therefore, we should look at these “unprecedented” times as a chance to re-assess our current curriculum and focus on building students’ knowledge, perspective, and understanding about themselves and the world.

McKinsey Live. August 2020. Considerations for schools amidst COVID-19. Webinar Presentation Report. Washington, DC.