SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD HAVE BEEN OPENING AND CLOSING FOR ONE YEAR
The difficulties for children are many and complex
Some findings from surveys in other countries
For a year now, schools around the world have been opening and closing in the name of facing the pandemic, while bourgeois governments are determining all measures on the basis of the “cost-benefit” balance, the defense of capital.
Experience from every country says that prolonged distance education exacerbates unequal access to education, since it is not organized with all the necessary conditions (appropriate internet connections and devices, etc.) guaranteed to students and teachers. In addition, the interruption of the live lesson inside the school, together with the teacher and the peers, causes much more complex difficulties to the children. The difficulties that the bourgeois government staffs themselves recognize, universities and related research are characteristic.
In Germany, a study by the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Medical Center (December-January) found that 1/3 of children aged 7-17 had an increase in symptoms such as anxiety, fear, depression and psychosomatic disorders as a result of lockdown and school closure for several months. The problems appear much more acute in “families at risk” (e.g. single parents, low income, etc.). Researchers note that ” a better plan is needed to support and enhance the mental and emotional health of children from “families at risk” (…) Schools should have regular contact with students and evaluate the situation (…) Otherwise there is a risk that children from such families will lose all motivation and willingness to learn … “.
According to the Associated Press, 4 out of 5 children surveyed said that the pandemic has burdened them. They also replied that quarrels have increased in their families, the problems they have at school have increased (in terms of their ability to participate in the lesson), the relations with their friends have worsened. Also, they answered that they eat less healthy, spend much more time on the internet and they are exercised less. “Parents have adapted to the challenges of distance learning and work and try to meet the best they can. “But they have also reached their limits,” said some of those in charge of the investigation.
“The silent victims”
The UN website cites surveys from various countries that show how much the children’s lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. Characterizing children as “the silent victims of the pandemic”, stresses that: “School closures, isolation, fear of being exposed and spreading the virus are factors that hinder their growth and development.”
According to a recent study in Belgium, 1 out of 5 teens developed symptoms of depression. Another study, in Luxembourg, found that 67% of children said they were satisfied with their lives, compared with 96% before the pandemic. Researchers in Luxembourg have singled out the fears of many children and adolescents especially about whether they will be responsible for spreading the virus (in a society where “individual responsibility” takes off and the state social responsibility disappears, this is not strange …), fear and guilt that make sense to grow especially when someone in their environment is exposed to the virus. A 10-year-old girl said: “We are afraid. We do not want to be exposed or spread the virus to others. We do not go out of the house … “. A 15-year-old girl described the frustration “of being locked in our own home without feeling neither free nor safe … “.
Noting that elementary school students in Luxembourg did not meet with their teachers only once a week during the period, the survey concluded, among other things, that “apart from the delay in teaching the curriculum, the children have dropped out of their program, both in terms of the lesson and in terms of socializing with their classmates and teachers … ».
“It is urgent to open schools …”
In late January, some pediatricians from across the UK sent an open letter to the Ministry of Education, stating, among other things: “Based on what we see and hear happening in schools, we realize first hand that the damage from the lockdown penetrates the mental health of children across the country. Socio-economic differences exacerbate educational inequalities, in cases where families struggle to provide their children with adequate access to the internet or private space so that they can participate (in the tele-course) in a way that makes sense …
We are witnessing an intense and rapid increase in cases involving the mental health of children and parents. Anxiety, depression and self-injury are at alarming levels. Parents show symptoms of psychological stress, even exhaustion, as a result of trying to help their children in distance learning and keep their jobs. The pandemic has devastating consequences for our way of life, education and mental health. Vaccination of teaching staff offers protection to one of the most crucial groups of our workforce, which in turn protects our children, who are at risk of becoming a generation that will count long-term covid – losses, if this will not become our priority … ».
Elsewhere the letter stressed that the impact is “terrifying” “not only on the part of the lost teaching hours but also on the part of the loss of all other stuff that the school and Education offer, such as social development and extracurricular activities.” “Also, for many children, the school provides security, emotional, and even nutritional support … “. They end up criticizing the lack of a government plan to open schools with comprehensive protection measures and express concern because “there seems to be no rush to reopen schools: It seems as if some people consider Education more as something nice, not as something necessary. . ».
Children’s mental health is vulnerable
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Report in England – published in the autumn, based on data from the National Statistics Office – found that 1 out of 6 children aged 5-16 had a “potential mental disorder”, compared with 1 out of 9 that it was three years ago. The children who took part in the research focused on the “family tensions” and the “financial worries” that affect them, that they are “isolated from their friends”, but also that “they are afraid that the virus will cause them upset”.
The research points out that even young children face the effects of reduced social interactions, with those in charge noting that for the childern of 2-3 years old the wider social contact (with the people around the family, etc.) cultivates a number of stimuli important for their overall social development.
Particularly strong is the concern for children with special needs -of learning or other – for whom the consequences of being “locked up” at home or interrupting programs that provided them with significant help are leveling them (among other things, because such areas have passed into the hands of several NGOs and institutions that make large cuts in staff and resources with the new data). Scientists say they are very concerned about the depth of the consequences, stressing that even before the pandemic only 1 out of 3 children in need of psychological support were covered. Now, with the commercialization of Health and Welfare and the new recession, which will be loaded again on the people, unequal access will have even more devastating effects.