Education in Quarantine

Education in Quarantine

education
27/08/20
Amal Ahmed

Education in Quarantine

On the 16st March 2020, the UK government announced that they were implementing a nation-wide quarantine due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, this inevitably resulted in the closure of schools and universities across the country.  For me, this meant completing my final year in my bedroom, which as you could imagine was a daunting feat to say the least. How was I supposed cope? How could I ensure I showcased my full potential without the support of my lecturers, peers and academic advisors? By April my anxiety had paralysed me entirely as I hadn’t been sleeping or eating well. I really found it difficult to write more than a hundred words a week.

At this point, I decided to contact my personal tutor at Goldsmith’s University to discuss options regarding my mental health and academic work. He was extremely helpful in connecting me with an academic mentor and approved extensions on all my work, assuring me all the while that I wasn’t the only one and that many students like myself were struggling with the new on-line academic format. I know my experience has been a common one, with many young people across the country struggling to adjust to the new lack of direct institutional support. Most recently, many students have been mobilised to protest against what they feel are biased GCSE and A-level results due to an inaccurate algorithm that seems to have penalised high achieving students in disadvantaged schools. This has in turn has further fuelled discussions about the governments continued oversight when it comes to the advocacy needed for students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds.  

At such a crucial juncture in one’s life, the academic years between the ages of 16-19, bridge an important transition into adult life and thus must be managed with extreme support and care. I vividly remember the feeling of defeat when I was rejected from all three of my top choice universities and had to enter clearing due to a mistake in the grading of my sociology exam. At the time I was on holiday with my family, I felt so helpless and deeply heartbroken that all my efforts had come up short. However, upon returning home, I was reassured by sympathetic teachers that my exam result was a mistake and would be reassessed for a small fee. However, this hasn’t been the case for many young people in similar circumstances due to the under-funding and some biased school cultures, to which BAME students have been shown to be the most vulnerable victims.

For me this showcases the importance and urgency of youth work like ours in KORI Youth Charity and other youth advocacy networks, for without this support many young people across the United Kingdom will be alienated from trying to access further education and perhaps never reaching for the social success and growth in self-esteem it could enable. Education during the quarantine has illuminated the reality and shortcomings of our education system, I now recognise the importance of mental health resources being openly available. I also see the institutionalised class inequality that permeates our exam boards.  As we look forward to a new academic year I am hopeful for the much needed reform and revision of an old system as we all adapt to our new normal.

Amal Ahmed

Tags: Education, University, COVID-19, Quarantine, Mental health, well-being, Exams.

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