This article is devoted to the analysis of the well-being of young people in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospects of post-COVID higher education. The study was based on data from official sources and foreign surveys of students (UNICEF, UN, International Labor Organization, etc.), as well as on the basis of its own research conducted by the scientific group of Abylai Khan Kazakh University of International Relations and World Languages among 1000 students of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The idea is substantiated that the pandemic was not a source, but a catalyst for deep value-transformation processes in the worldview of young people. The thoughts of scientists about the future of higher education and bridge-like educational trends are presented.
philosophy of education, pandemic, well-being of youth, post-teen age, global educational crisis
The coronavirus pandemic, which spread widely around the world at the beginning of 2020, has seriously affected the education sector. It has led to the almost complete paralysis of schools, colleges and universities. Already in mid-April, according to UNESCO, schools were closed in 191 countries of the world, and more than 1.5 billion students switched to distance education . This process, which, only at first glance, seems temporary, in fact causes serious concerns of the academic community with deep socio-economic consequences and a new round of the global educational crisis. It is believed that the main negative factors of the pandemic are failures in the work of educational institutions, poor technical equipment, interruptions in the Internet, limited access to educational products, poor digital training of teachers and students, growing unemployment in education, rising student debts, etc. . But all this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the education system. The crisis in which the entire world education was previously in a hidden, latent form, today it has made itself felt in the most impressive dimensions. Narrow pragmatism instead of the fundamentalization of education, technization instead of humanization, consumerization at the expense of ecologization, and finally, education as a commodity instead of education as an end in itself: the substitution of the value foundations of the education system is more obvious than ever today.
With the pandemic came a clear realization that universities do not teach young people to cope with life's problems. Having become a part of market relations, serving the consumer society with its increasing imaginary needs, education has become far removed from the basics and has ceased to perform its main functions - socialization and social control.
Ankit Gupta, a researcher from India, believes that the entire education system concentrates on teaching students purely professional skills with economic value. "How to do" instead of the questions "What to do" or "Why something should be done" . The education system does not prepare students for life, does not help them cope with problems and difficulties that arise outside their profession. As a result, modern students are disoriented, worried, lose their purpose and understanding of the events taking place.
Thus, according to a UNICEF survey on the impact of COVID on the mental health of adolescents and young people, conducted in 9 countries and covering more than 8 thousand respondents, one in three said that they feel anxious (27%) and another 15% experience depression. 43% of girls and 31% of boys are pessimistic about the future .
According to the report of the International Labor Organization "Youth and the COVID-19 pandemic: impact on jobs, education, rights and psychological state", 50% of young people may potentially experience anxiety or depression, and another 17% are likely to have already encountered these problems .
In Canada, every fourth respondent student noted that his stress level is above critical thresholds .
The results of a survey conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research in 2020 among 1,305 young people in the United States showed that students in the United States today show less clarity about their goals and ideas for future work or career, many respondents are not sure whether they should continue studying at university, most have changed their educational plans .
In the UK, the average life satisfaction score among students has decreased: it has become much lower than that of the adult population (5.8 vs. 7 out of 10) .
In Australia, the majority of students are unsure about their financial future (64%) and postpone achieving their main life goals due to the Covid-19 pandemic (69%). The majority of young people stated that they are unlikely to retire before the age of 65, find their dream home or a job that is not only related to paying bills .
In Russia, 57.2% of student respondents stated that they lose control of the situation and their lives, feel the loss of goals, lack of plans and uncertainty .
As for Kazakhstan, according to a study conducted by Abylai Khan KazUIR&WL research group in April-May 2021, among 1000 students of the Republic of Kazakhstan, almost every fifth student in Kazakhstan (18%) experiences negative feelings: the state of unbalance, anxiety, depression, indifference, fear, fatigue, loneliness, etc. Among the main concerns, students noted the fear of not realizing themselves (54%), problems with employment (11.4%), fear of being left without means of livelihood (11.2%), health problems (10.3%), problems with marital status (8.5%) .
As we can see, the pandemic is seriously affecting the mental and psychological health of young people. All over the world, including Kazakhstan, the level of stress and anxiety of young people is growing.
Most education theorists see a way out of the situation in the value transformation of university education, in the return of its essential qualities to the education system: fundamentalization, humanization and environmentalization.
The pandemic gives a chance to turn our universities not into a gathering place for "intellectual technicians", but into a place where "people of thought trained to think essentially, holistically, transdisciplinarily" will gather .
"Impact on the planet" should become an integral part of disciplinary knowledge," R. Gorur believes, "not as a six-week course in the first semester, but as the fundamental basis of any discipline. The orientation of each discipline towards understanding how decisions in this area affect society, with case studies assessing past contributions and effects, will justify and bring to life the abstract missions and visions that universities support".
In addition to rethinking each individual discipline and its impact on the development of mankind, scientists consider it necessary to fundamentally rethink the role of the university in society. If in the era of the pandemic it became possible to have rare museum collections, library archives, articles, etc. in the public domain, then why can't this be after the pandemic, in normal times? "Universities should seriously think about making all their research open after COVID, giving priority to society. This is another way for them to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of justice and the health of the planet," R. Gorur believes .
Thus, the main trends and prospects of the education of the future are seen:
- in moving away from market relations and commercialization in favor of education for people based on empathy, social ethics, integrity and interdisciplinarity,
- in the openness of education and its wide access for all, in the democratization of higher education,
- in the emergence of distance (or mixed) education as an alternative to the classroom-based system with active student involvement and high interactivity,
- in the transformation of the education system as an end in itself and self-worth.
The pandemic has undoubtedly exposed the education system around the world, it has clearly shown its sick and weak points, pointed to vulnerable places. The urgent transformation of education and the transition to online, which were considered exclusively as temporary measures, can be the beginning for the formation of higher-order education and thinking. A pandemic is a gap after which education can no longer be the same. Today, more than ever before, it has become clear that the value of education is not equivalent to its market value. Education should become something more - the basis, the cornerstone in the formation of personality, the main value guideline of young people. Only in this way it is possible to overcome the negative consequences of the pandemic and the global educational crisis that followed it.
*The work was carried out with the financial support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan within the framework of the scientific project AP09058341 "Transformation of the values of the Kazakhstan higher education system in a multicultural and globalizing world".
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