IESALC and AUR analyze impacts and challenges facing higher education in its transit from presentiality to online education / AUR
Francesc Pedró, Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC ) was the central speaker at the Webinar organized by the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción y la Agrupación de Universidades Regionales de Chile AUR (Group of Regional Universities of Chile). Álvaro Palma from the Universidad de Tarapacá UTA, also participated talking about the experience of regional universities.
COVID-19, Continuity or change in university education in Chile?, was the title of the webinar that took place on August 13 and which brought together a hundred academics and specialists to discuss the situation in higher education due to the Coronavirus and the abrupt change registered when going from face-to-face to remote teaching.
In his presentation, Francesc Pedró, Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC), pointed out that “we are losing a lot on a social scale in this pandemic, but it is also an opportunity to achieve changes that move us closer to equity”. He recognized that the pandemic has exposed great social differences, which are translated into very significant examples, such as the lack of connection and the uncertainty regarding the near future, because many of the students in Latin America have even lost their jobs, mechanisms through which many of them supported their higher studies.
For this reason, he made a call to “ensure the right to higher education and not leave any student behind”, an objective consistent with the UN’s sustainable development goals and aimed at putting the principle of equity into practice. Delving into this issue, the director of IESALC advanced that the current pandemic may trigger a drop in women in higher education, due to the hegemonic structures rooted in Latin America, which can keep them in their homes, distancing them from their studies, “to go and look for them would be a great example of our social commitment”, he emphasized.
Regarding the challenges, Francesc Pedró made mention of the importance of improving the quality of the experience in higher education, evaluating the fundamental objectives, maximizing the use of technologies, making them equitable, and adapting pedagogical and socio-emotional supports for university communities, “it is also extremely important to anticipate alternative scenarios and extract lessons from experiences of continuity in order to improve educational processes, this will help us to better study and analyze the future”, he specified.