This issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning highlights some of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and asks how, in the post-pandemic world, we might do education differently.
The issue is a companion to the October/December issue. Both double special issues deal with the ongoing crisis. The current issue, entitled ‘Education in the age of COVID-19: Implications for the future’, takes the impact of the pandemic as a platform from which to examine what has happened, how societies have responded and how we might do better. It considers some of the social fractures and inequities exposed by the pandemic and shines a critical light on the role of different national and international actors.
The featured articles aim to enhance our understanding of the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for education worldwide and to inspire critical discussion of the educational implications of the pandemic, with a view to informing future actions. The ten articles include empirical and theoretically oriented assessments with a focus on adult and community education, schooling and higher education.
Contributions include first-hand perspectives from Canada, Chile, Egypt, Nepal, Small Island Developing States, South Africa and the United States. A central message of all the articles is that the move to online learning in the context of a global emergency has reinforced inequalities of access and participation in education, not only in schools and universities, but in adult education too.
Another common theme is that the pandemic, and responses to it, have affected systems that were unprepared to deal with the current crisis. Reasons for this include weaknesses fostered by pre-existing inequalities, budget constraints and austerity measures. These were, in many cases, exacerbated by neoliberal policies aimed at reducing public spending and promoting markets and competition, often at the cost of democratic accountability.
Together, these two special issues can be used as a toolbox of resources to support the process of recovery and renewal, as well as providing useful advice about how to prepare for future global crises.