All of us have our pandemic stories to tell. Of course, some are much more traumatic and devastating than others. Although the global coronavirus outbreak may seem to be a health and science issue, actually sociology has also come into its own here because of the impact of inequality and the differential social impact of the virus.
All of you will have been directly impacted because of the closure of schools and colleges and the unusual situation in relation to exams and at universities. In late March 2020, UNESCO estimated that 1.38 billion young people — 80% of the world’s learners — had been affected by closures (see Figure 1). Some 138 governments worldwide had ordered closures of their schools and universities, indicating the impact of globalisation. But poorer students in less wealthy countries and those at home are often worst affected. Poorer children in the UK, for example, missed the meals provided at school, and research shows that out-of-school factors are a primary source of inequalities in educational outcomes. The gap in maths and literacy skills between children from lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds, for example, often widens during school holiday periods. The same effect was likely to kick in during Covid-19.
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