Uploaded by Noel Emmanuel


COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that is the cause of the ongoing pandemic. The disease
has forced governments to respond with measures to control the infection. The measures
have disrupted the social and economic situation of every nation. According to the United
Nations Development Program (UNDP) report, the pandemic has affected the lives of each
person on the globe prompting governments and citizens to rethink how life should be in a
new normal(United Nations Development Program, 2020, pp. 1–3). This has affected the
approach of the world towards the goal of providing quality education which is part of the
Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection
of 17 global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable
future for all”(Wikipedia contributors, 2020)
This paper aims to discuss the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. Highlighting the
impacts on different sectors shows this multifaceted crisis which has affected the whole
globe and highlighting the impact of the pandemic in the education sector of Africa.
The pandemic has led to an increase in poverty levels, about 40-60 million people will be
pushed into extreme poverty due to the economic shocks from COVID-19(United Nations
Development Program, 2020, pp. 1–3). This shift has led to an increase in the number of
people living under different poverty lines. The pandemic has slashed economic growth
rates worldwide which might lead to a global recession.
The UNDP Socio-Economic Impact Assessment report has found that with 144 countries
having nationwide closures in place, students are out of school accounting for about 68%
of enrolled learners worldwide(United Nations Development Program, 2020, pp. 1–3). The
education sector has taken a hit. Without the fees to operate, some schools have closed
down until further notice. Only a few schools can offer their courses online depending on
the faculty. Also, students have been forced to adjust to online classes, and also not every
student can access the courses online. Regarding engineering and science courses, the
practical aspect of the course is hard to account for.
People who live in informal settlements and slums are at a higher risk of catching the virus
with most cases happening in urban areas. Most of these people barely have health
insurance and few of them have social assistance. These conditions place the dwellers at a
higher risk of an outbreak. The governments of the world have tried to control infection by
ensuring that these places have sanitation stations and people obey the safety rules.
The pandemic has highlighted the lack of adequate social protection. The UNDP SocioEconomic Impact Assessment report says that 55% of the world population (about 4 billion
people) are not covered by health insurance or social assistance and only about 20% of
unemployed people are covered with unemployment benefits. (United Nations
Development Program, 2020, pp. 1–3) In other regions, the coverage is much lower. The
cost of health care is high, leaving people without support unable to afford it.
Income and Job loss as people started to work from home as others were forced to stay
home indefinitely since the lockdown measures were put in place. Most of the informal
workers have lost about more than half of their income, with little to no savings and no
access to social protection. The economic shock is taking a toll on county economies.
The pandemic will double the number of people facing food crises, according to the United
Nations Development Program, reports say that about 26 million people in low- and
middle-income countries are at risk of acute food insecurity by the end of 2020 unless swift
action is taken. Most people suffering from acute food insecurity were in countries affected
by conflict, climate change, and economic crises. The number is set to rise by the end of
the year if a response is delayed.
The situation is tough for Internally Displaced People, who are people are forced to flee
from their homes or settlements but remain within their country’s border. Violations of
human rights, natural and man-made disasters, armed conflict, and violence are among the
causes of internal displacement. According to the UNDP report, a third of the world’s
internally displaced population lives in the 10 countries most at risk to the COVID-19
socio-economic impacts (United Nations Development Program, 2020, pp. 1–3).
The pandemic has affected every sector in a country’s system, major financial analysts
project that the crisis may lead to a recession. In Africa, most economies are struck with
partial or full lockdowns in place. The United Nations report suggests that there will be a
significant impact on the Gross Domestic Product expansion for 2020 in the growing
economies like Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, and Ethiopia among others.
The education sector in Africa is severely hit. The pandemic has exposed the inequities in
the whole sector. Goolam Mohamedbhai (2020) observes that African countries had no
choice but to close their higher education institutions as part of their lockdown measures
to contain the spread of the virus. And higher education institutions had no option but to
have recourse to the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to deliver
their programs online at a distance to their enrolled students. Mohamedbhai explains that
the process has laid bare the digital divide within the African continent: between those
countries that have better ICT infrastructure than others; between higher education
institutions within the same country, with some being far better equipped and experienced
than others; and between students within the same institution – the rich who live in urban
areas and the poor in rural areas who can barely afford to access the internet, when and if
it is available (Mohamedbhai,2020).
The pipeline effect as in; Secondary schools that feed students to higher education
institutions has also been closed. Already, it had been observed in many African countries
that with the high increase in enrolment in secondary schools, resulting from measures
taken to improve access, the quality of students entering higher education institutions had
deteriorated (Mohamedbhai,2020). Also, end-of-secondary school examinations are being
postponed, which in turn will lead to a delay in the intake process, and also institutions will
have to come up with solutions to cater to the poor intake quality.
A characteristic of the higher education sector in African countries is the presence of
private institutions (Mohamedbhai,2020). The private student enrolment has steadily
increased over the years, with some countries now having almost equal student enrolment
in public and private institutions. Private institutions usually operate on a business model
and are heavily dependent on students’ fees to cover staff salaries and operational costs
(Mohamedbhai,2020). While public institutions may eventually receive assistance from the
state to overcome the consequences of COVID-19, the private ones may be forced to stop
their operations for lack of funds. Closure of these institutions would have a dramatic
impact on the higher education sector and countries’ economic development.
In research from Burgess, Sieverstein(2020), they found that the careers of this year’s
university graduates may be severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have
experienced major teaching interruptions in the final part of their studies, they are
experiencing major interruptions in their assessments, and finally, they are likely to
graduate at the beginning of a major global recession. Evidence suggests that poor market
conditions at labor market entry cause workers to accept lower-paid jobs and that this has
permanent effects on the careers of some. Oreopoulos et al. (2012) show that graduates
from programs with high predicted earnings can compensate for their poor starting point
through both within- and across-firm earnings gains, but graduates from other programs
have been found to experience permanent earnings losses from graduating in a recession.
(Burgess, Sieverstein,2020)
With current technology, the future of education in the African continent is to pioneer
individualized learning. Instructors and teachers will become more like coaches. Students
will no longer have to wait for their peers to master topics and acquire skills. This will be
made possible through providing knowledge and values that instill responsibility in the
students and therefore build a better society.
Aakansha Lam, founder of Energy Scalable explains that “… the combination of reliable
energy access and adaptive educational technologies to reach vulnerable social groups,
including those with disabilities”(Mire,2020). Electricity is important in daily activities.
Finding a clean and sustainable source of energy is the main goal and being able to supply
it to large populations will help people to have access to better learning and life in general.
The future of education is to diversify learning. Informal and diverse learning is
increasingly important in a globalized economy where people must cultivate differentiated
skills to be successful. The internet is a pool of information that students can use outside
of formal institutions. Also through interactions with people whether online or in the real
world, one can acquire knowledge and skills to be successful.
Today, jobs require a certain set of skills not just a particular degree, and many institutions
offer online courses for these skills. Institutions should look to offer these skills to equip
students with the knowledge necessary for them to thrive. Quality education is not just
giving knowledge, but also instilling skills, attitudes, values, and responsibility.
Adequate financial support for education, effective planning, and cooperation are required
for the continent to achieve the goal of quality education. Through funding and cooperation,
education institutions will have a chance to improve access to learning materials to all
enrolled students. Technologies to assist interactions and learning are being developed and
they come with a cost, therefore, funds will be crucial to achieving the goal of quality
Burgess, Sieverstein, S. B. H. H. S. (2020, April 1). The impact of COVID-19 on
education. VOX, CEPR Policy Portal. https://voxeu.org/article/impact-covid-19education
Mire, S. M. (2019, May 15). What is the future of Education. Disruptor Daily.
Mohamedbhai, G. M. (2020, April 9). COVID-19: What consequences for higher
education? University World News.
United Nations Development Program. (2020, June). UN Socio-Economic Impact
Assessment. United Nations.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, July 25). Sustainable Development Goals. Wikipedia.