What will the new normal be like at school?

Students will not come back at the same school that they left in 2021. What will the new normal be like at school?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had consequences on education in Mexico. Authorities are calling to come back. However, the school can’t be the same due to changes in the economy and new trends for the families. What will the new normal be like at school?

With more than five million students and close to half a million teachers, private education represents 15% of the entire Mexican educational system. However, more than a quarter of these schools are on the brink of bankruptcy due to massive student dropouts due to the pandemic.

The National Confederation of Private Schools (CNEP) estimates that the enrollment of its 3,500 affiliates will drop an average of 30%, which means that two million students will drop out to enter the public system, causing the disappearance of 4 of each 10 private schools.

These figures are in line with other regional trends. For example, a survey on online education stay in private schools in Jalisco, carried out by the Jalisco Statistical and Geographic Information Institute (IIEG), revealed that about a third of parents plan to change their children to a private school, 21.9% plan to educate them at home, while a similar proportion considers taking them out of school and missing the school year. 12.8% plan to change them to a lower-cost private school. The Guanajuato Ministry of Education (SEG) foresees the closure of 30 private schools.

Possible consequences of the pandemic in education in Mexico

Some consequences of COVID-19 in education in Mexico begin to be observed with the school dropout and migration of a large percentage of the population from private schools to public schools. However, there are other challenges that the National Educational System will have to face.

So far, public education has claimed to have the capacity to receive all students who migrate from private education to public education. However, this ability will be put to the test with the return to classes that, in addition, must be done with healthy distance measures.

In turn, the blow to the economy of families will increase the demand within public universities in the coming years, with the most prestigious institutions such as UNAM, IPN, U. de G, among others, being the most requested. The ECOVID-ED indicates that more than half of the families (58.3%) consider that they do not learn or learn less with distance classes. Therefore, most likely many families will seek preparation courses and tutorials that increase the chances of achieving a place in these institutions.

What will the new normal be like at school?

Returning to classes will not be as easy as the educational authorities would like. The government position has had to pass the return to classes “yes or yes”, for an optional return to classes and we can understand the reason: the public schools will not cope if they all return at the same time, due to the increase in their enrollment by the great migration in the last year. Therefore, a hybrid model should be adopted for back-to-school.

For their part, parents who had their children in private schools will want to seek alternatives to maintain the educational level that they had in private schools, so there will probably be an increase in demand for tutoring and extracurricular courses.

To survive, private schools will have to ask themselves whether they have addressed the challenges posed by the pandemic in the right way. Did they seek training to follow the quality standards of online tutoring? Or did they just move the classroom to video call meetings? For parents to consider that private education is worth their investment, they, in turn, must invest in digital tools designed specifically for education, which add value to the learning process and exploit the advantages of online education such as Asynchronous activities and automated assessments that lessen the burden on the teacher and provide instant feedback to the student.

Finally, the National Educational System must promote the student’s autonomy in the learning process, which implies teaching him to learn. We must question the current paradigm of education in Mexico, rooted in both teachers and parents. The school should not be a space where students only receive knowledge. Students must be active subjects who enjoy this learning process.

This last point is perhaps the greatest challenge because it requires innovation in education. And we require that these innovations be national because it is Mexicans who know better than anyone the needs of the country.

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