This issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning is the first of two double special issues dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Entitled “Education in the age of COVID-19: Understanding the consequences”, it aims to assess the impact of the pandemic on education, and to provide insights which can help in setting the course for strategic and constructive action. How we respond to this crisis and the actions we take now will have a profound impact on the society of the future, including the future of education.
Many of the contributions provide first-hand accounts of strategies employed to tackle the situation on the ground in Canada, Cameroon, Catalonia, China, the Republic of Korea and the United States. They include a wide range of educational programmes such as family literacy, intergenerational learning, Indigenous health, but also an account of how a major international conference was successfully moved online at short notice. Other contributions take a more global approach (e.g. an international survey among adult educators) or offer theoretical pathways to get a handle on this ongoing pandemic and its potential consequences.
Understanding how we might bring about effective change towards a better future of education means understanding what has happened, its impact and the deeper problems it has exposed and, in some instances, exacerbated. Many of the authors who contributed to this special issue reflect on inequalities – especially in terms of access to and participation in education – which already existed before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Between them, these 12 articles focus largely on understanding the impact of the pandemic on education. A companion double special issue, highlighting future trends and possibilities and the challenges of recovery, is scheduled for publication in April 2021. Together, these 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.