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Plugged In-Education Pandemic-TRANSCRIPT


[[GRETA]]

On Plugged In:

Education in a Pandemic.

Impacting more than 1.6 billion ...

students worldwide.

From kindergarten …

to college …

New health precautions ...

implemented …

to try to keep students …

And teachers …

Safe from COVID.

Students …

Educators ...

and experts …

help us examine …

the impact...

of the Coronavirus on …

global education...

On Plugged In...

Education in a Pandemic.

###

[[GRETA]]

Hello and welcome …

To Plugged In.

I’m Greta Van Susteren …

reporting from Washington.

According to a recent…

United Nations report...

the coronavirus pandemic …

is disrupting the education …

of 1-point-6 billion children …

around the globe.

Some progress …

has been achieved …

conducting remote learning …

and re-designing schools …

to establish safe distancing.

But overall...

educating the world’s children …

during the pandemic ...

remains a challenge.

VOA Education Editor …

Kathleen Struck …

begins our examination …

of Education in a Pandemic:

[[STRUCK PKG]]

((Narrator #001))

From the start of the pandemic, students became some of the carriers who seeded the coronavirus around the world as it spread around the globe from Asia.

Unprepared, colleges and universities in the U.S. stumbled over their responses last March. First, they sent students home, then brought them back for their belongings, only to send them home again.

((Broll of students back on campus and congregating, hanging out together, in crowds at sports events#002))

Months later, schools said they would reopen in the fall. While some did, many quickly shut down when COVID-19 cases increased.

((Frederick Lawrence, former president of Brandeis University))

((13:14-13:41))

“You've got dorms that are set up not for social distancing. You’ve got classrooms that are set up, not for social distancing. So you've got to refigure all of that. If they're going to be in a classroom, all of a sudden, a classroom that used to hold 50 now holds 15 because they've all got to have a six-foot circle around them. So having them come back has that risk.”

((Narrator##3))

The closures have been devastating for students, too. Many say online learning is lacking.

((Frederick Lawrence, former president of Brandeis University in Massachusetts))

((10:50-11:24))

“Schools that had very limited online presence, were transforming themselves into online education institutions, were transferring hundreds, sometimes thousands of courses into online delivery. It was truly astonishing. … and frankly, it was kind of hit and miss, because schools were changing quickly. Some did better, some did worse.”

((– Broll of students taking online classes, headlines about tuition reimbursements##4))

((Narrator)) ((COVIDCollegeExit TC: :13 - :18))

Students and their families balked at continuing to pay tuition and housing fees while learning remotely. Schools lost money.

((Brandon Busteed, President, University Partners and Global Head of Kaplan))

((11:09-11:26))

“A lot of tuition-dependent, meaning enrollment-dependent institutions, are really on the edge, right? They've, for a long time, been offering steep tuition discounts in order to lure more students to come there.

((Narrator##5)) CovidCollegeExitTC: :38 - :49

Educators say the U.S. needs to take a long, hard look at where higher education is going and how it can better serve students and prepare them for the workforce.

((Brandon Busteed, President, University Partners and Global Head of Kaplan))

((13:10-13:34))

“I think we need to get to a place where there's some thoughtful and creative proposals. And here's one that I would put at the top of the list: How to create incentives for colleges and universities to reduce their actual costs. So that we get to a place where the tuition prices are more sustainable.”

((Broll ##6))Washington DC protest video TC: 1:10-1:30

((Narrator))

Meanwhile, as the coronavirus pandemic rages, colleges and universities are left wondering when campus activity might resume.

((Kathleen Struck, VOA News Washington))

[[GRETA]]

While schools …

had several months …

to plan strategies …

to hold in-person …

and online classes …

the persistence …

of the virus …

and the physical return …

of students …

made many schools …

re-think their approach:

[[ SOT/ GRETA TRACKED/BY THE NUMBERS ]]

Back in August before the start of the fall semester,

almost half of the nearly 1300 higher learning institutions planned for an in-person semester.

35% planned a hybrid of the in-person and remote approach.

And 14% offered an online only curriculum.

In October as the infection rate spiked on many campuses, only 4% were fully in person and 23% reported primarily in-person instruction. 21% shifted to a hybrid model while the rest shifted to a combination of primarily and fully remote.

[[ GRETA ]]

Nearly half …

of America’s ...

colleges and universities …

are now conducting …

remote learning.

But according to …

the U.S. Department ...

of Education...

just one-third …

of college students ...

had some type of online ...

course experience ...

prior to the pandemic.

Lynn Pasquerella ...

is president ...

of the Association …

of American Colleges …

and Universities.

We spoke earlier ...

about the impact ...

of the Coronavirus ...

on education.

[[SOT]]

Lynn Pasquerella: COVID has had an enormous impact on global education, but not only in terms of enrollment, but the diversity on college campuses the uncertainty the need to pivot to online education. And with that, an unveiling of the shelter, food insecurities and the expansiveness of the digital divide that has gotten greater as a result of this crisis. I think this is a moment of enormous opportunity for higher education to reimagine ourselves and to reinvigorate our commitment to the democratic purposes of higher education. And so we will leverage technology in new and innovative ways and partner, more meaningfully with colleges and universities across the country and around the world. What has surprised me the most is really the ways in which the higher education community pivoted so quickly, changed their pedagogical approaches, engaged in training of faculty and staff and the ways that students took up the challenge to excel under these most extraordinary circumstances.

Greta Van Susteren: is there any substitute for on-campus education?

Lynn Pasquerella: I think there isn't a real substitute, when I think about my own undergraduate days and I learned as much sitting on the residence hall floor as talking to my friends about what they were doing in their classes. So I wasn't just taking four classes a semester or five, but but really felt like I was taking everyone's class I was engaged with and in the residence halls in the dining hall. But students today are so tech savvy and they create online communities. And so they are maybe playing a video game with 300 people in their group around the world, or connecting with old classmates through Facebook or other social media. And so there are opportunities for us to learn from the ways in which people connect. That's different from what we had in higher education a decade ago.

Greta Van Susteren: I assume that labs are going to be a huge problem and you can take a course in history, online or zoom, but if you want to take chemistry or other lab courses that that creates a challenge that I don't know how we're going to accommodate that.

Lynn Pasquerella: It does. Many institutions are holding their lab courses or studio art courses face to face but all other classes are remote, and yet there is extraordinary technology out there that helps us to conduct experiments to engage in dissections virtually. And so, especially with virtual reality there, there are new opportunities to make pedagogical changes that provide broader access for people around the world.

Greta Van Susteren : I suppose technology makes it less bad, but how, is there is there any substitute for actually having your hands on and doing a dissection of a, of a frog or cadaver whatever it's been, you know, can it ever be the same as being there doing it yourself?

Lynn Pasquerella: I think there are some good substitutions but I think there is value in face to face learning that peer interaction, grappling with unscripted problems and diverse teams this can happen virtually, but there is something about being in a place together, that can foster imagination especially moral imagination.

Greta Van Susteren: Is there any of any sort of thought of whether the adjustment for this distance learning, whether it be by zoom or an online course as to who's been able to, who has a easier adjustment is it teachers or students?

Lynn Pasquerella: No, I think it's been a challenge for both. We've seen decreases in enrollment are dramatic this year of 16% and 22.7% of Community College attendees are not able to attend college. And so we know that it, there's responsibility at home, that creates obstacles for people attending college, but these same roles and responsibilities are present for professors and so everyone's life has been upended as a result of this crisis.

Greta Van Susteren: Are universities in this country feeling a financial pinch?

Lynn Pasquerella: They are on a number of levels. It's a lack of the capacity to do fundraising to hold big events to hold football games and fundraisers booster events that go along with that, but also engaging with alumni around the world and and state support has decreased in the United States for public colleges and universities and so all of this is coming together to have a profound impact on higher education, which is one reason in the US why there's such a call for increased funding under a new cares act.

Greta Van Susteren: Do you see any universities or colleges going bankrupt because they get they get. There's so much money involved in even housing students food service, and security, so much on a campus but are we going to see universities here in this country go bankrupt?

Lynn Pasquerella: We've seen a few already. Many are small liberal arts faith based institutions, but those that serve the underserved are most at risk. and so if you look at HBCUs, Latino Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, their students already have such great financial aid needs and now to have to provide computers to the students to be able to have access to courses to deal with the food and shelter insecurities that so many of their students experience, especially if they can't live on campus, has has led to a breaking point for some of these colleges and universities at the moment when we need them the most.

Greta Van Susteren: The people who don't have much money students who are really struggling, and maybe you know don't have the family background or the government assistance. Is the – are the universities providing computers is there access to sufficient broadband, what's been done to address the people who don't have as much as others might have?

Lynn Pasquerella: Colleges and universities particularly community colleges are distributing computers to all of their students. We saw right after the COVID-19 shut down in March, that students were lining up in digital parking lots to take their courses or to take exams because they didn't have access to high speed internet necessary to to do the work of their courses. And so now, colleges and universities are paying increased attention to these needs as we look toward the spring semester.

Greta Van Susteren: If you were, if you were someone from a country not the United States and you couldn't get a visa for whatever reason to travel here to go to school, is that now you can go to school I mean there's because we know visa impediment you can do it all online or by zoom.

Lynn Pasquerella: Yes. But, as you pointed out, there is some richness in face to face learning, and that diversity is what makes American higher education distinctive, the fact that we have so many people from around the world who are seeking to study in the US, and it allows us to engage in diversity, speaking across differences and the innovation that's necessary to to address the problems like COVID-19.

Greta Van Susteren: What about the testing, the entrance exams? a lot of these schools reply on SAT, ACT, at law school has LSAT they all have entrance exams, so you can try to figure out which is the best fit student for what university what happens those exams?

Lynn Pasquerella: They've been suspended for one or two years in many cases, even among the Ivy League institutions in the US, and others are rethinking their approach. We know that the California State system has said we're not going to use SATS and ACTS any longer. Moving away from standardized measures is critically important at this moment of racial reckoning in America as higher education takes responsibility for the ways in which we've been complicit in perpetuating hierarchies of human value.

Greta Van Susteren: Thank you very much for joining me.

Lynn Pasquerella: No it was really my pleasure. Thank you.

[[GRETA ]]

According to a recent …

U.N. report.

more than …

370 million children ...

in 195 countries …

were impacted …

by the loss …

of health and nutrition services ...

during the first months …

of the pandemic.

In the United States...

many parents …

have been unable to find ...

alternative solutions ...

for childcare services.

Older parents …

are also adjusting …

to a new reality ...

With their grown children ...

coming back to the nest...

VOA reporter...

Karina Bafradzhian [[ Carina Bah-Frah-Djen]]

tells us more.

[[PKG]]

((NARRATION))

The grown children of writer and columnist Mary Dell Harrington are living at home these days. When the pandemic hit, both her son and daughter decided to leave New York City and stay with their parents in a large house in Georgia.

((Mary Dell Harrington, Co-Founder, Grown & Flown))

“We’ve all gone down this COVID learning curve…We sort of figured out how to

co-exist. //// It’s made me more appreciative towards my children and the closeness that we have.”

((NARRATION))

For some, moving back in with their parents is a choice, but for the overwhelming majority it’s a pandemic-inspired necessity due to job loss or closed university campuses.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of young Americans living with their parents has grown by over 2.5 million since the start of the pandemic. But experts say the pandemic has just accelerated a trend that was already growing.

((Jeffrey Arnett, Psychology Professor, Clark University))

“Young people marry later, they stay in education longer, they co-habit in relationships that may end after a while, they have jobs that are short-term jobs… It takes them longer to get a job that is a long-term job. If you put all these things together, it makes sense that more of them would be living with their parents or moving back home with their parents.”

((NARRATION))

23-year-old Yaroslava Zonova moved to the United States from Russia in 2017 – she has been living with her parents since then. She says she earns enough to afford her own place, but believes it’s easier to get through tough times surrounded by family.

((Yaroslava Zonova, School Teacher, Maryland ))

“It’s not that we just live together as a family. My mom and I are also colleagues – we work at the same school and prepare for classes together. When the quarantine started – and it was the happiest time for me – we started making art together and started our own project.”

((NARRATION))

It has been common in the U.S. for children to start living separately from their parents after they go to college. But for the last six months, 22-year-old Fletcher Lowe has lived with his big family.

((Fletcher Lowe, Alumnus, John Brown University))

“I think that sometimes we stigmatize living with your parents, we sometimes see that as a failure. And I really don’t think it is, because oftentimes we just – no matter how hard we work – we’re victims of the circumstances. Take my case, for instance – I got a job after graduation, and then I just couldn’t work because of the global pandemic.”

((NARRATION))

The trend is true among all ethnic groups – and it’s hard to tell now whether that’ll change after the pandemic is finally over.

((Karina Bafradzhian, for VOA News, Washington))

[[GRETA]]

Millions of parents...

students and teachers ...

are showing …

resilience and resourcefulness ...

in the face …

of unprecedented disruptions ...

brought on by the pandemic.

While technology...

is making …

distance learning possible ...

experts say …

it is revealing ...

broader inequities …

that impact …

low-income families

and students …

with learning disabilities.

John Katzman …

is the co-founder of ...

‘The Princeton Review’ ...

one of the top ...

college admission …

services groups.

He has created and led...

education technology companies...

for nearly 40 years.

We spoke about the benefits...

and challenges …

of remote learning ...

and how digital technology ...

is re-shaping ...

higher education.

[[SOT/KATZMAN INTVU]]

John Katzman: Online higher ed has been growing pretty steadily for the past decade. Of adult learners and people going to graduate school, we were up to about 35 percent of students, studying completely online. Obviously, with the pandemic that's gone to 100 percent, post pandemic, it will probably be over 50 right from the get go. I think we're in a whole new path. Covid is an accelerant to changes that were happening anyway. Generally, when we build a program with the university, we’ll double its size we’ll triple its size. The number of students studying online is a little larger than the number of students studying on campus. But very few of them have any real appetite to 10x the number of students they see on campus.

Greta Van Susteren: So faculty, do they seem, are they satisfied with this online teaching?

John Katzman: Look there are, there are online courses, and there are courses that have been thrown into Zoom, and they're different. So, if you and I were to take a course you were teaching and bring it online, it would take about 100 hours of our time. I would be employing videographers, animators, people creating simulations, we would be working hand in glove over the next couple of months to create something that blended work that students can do on their own, work that you're going to be teaching them over video conferencing into something really good.

Greta Van Susteren: Well it is interesting that Zooming is different. It’s a lecture on camera, so it's not, It's a different challenge.

John Katzman: Yeah, it could be a class, it could be more interactive but, but, it's like if, if you- like theater, you could just put a camera in the back of the theater and say well isn't that the same thing? And it's not, but if you're going to take a play and turn it into a movie and you're thoughtful about it, you can make a great movie. You can give a really great experience because you can you lose something of the immediacy, you lose something of the community that you're in, but you gain something else in terms of the ability to take, take people outside the building and zoom in and zoom out and cut in different kinds of ways. And good online instruction loses something but gain something else.

Greta Van Susteren: Do you see it as disruptive to the economy? I mean these universities because they have lots of dormitories. They have food service. They have people who are medical people providing medical services. I mean if more and more people are online or taking courses by zoom post vaccine, that it's going to be is it not going to be rather rude financial awakening for many universities?

John Katzman: This is very difficult. Number one, usually about 5 percent of freshmen at elite schools decide to defer and not to come this year. This year it's closer to 15 percent. So, all of a sudden, you've got a substantial number of seats on campus, of beds on campus unfilled and that's a financial hit to a lot of schools. Second, the students who are on campus. They're on, they're off, you've got to protect people, you've got to protect your faculty and administrators. The cost of navigating around the safety issues is enormous and this is a tough road for higher ed It's a tough road for the whole world though.

Greta Van Susteren: But think how this opens a door, like this show goes all around the world that if you live on the African continent, but you don't want to leave your family of a sick family member and it's central a long trip and you won't be like at home or to care for is that you can. You can actually go to school in the United States and vice versa United States in the African continent without going any and having sort of the enriched education of having a very diverse student, student body so to speak.

John Katzman: So where I see that playing out your you're in West Africa and there are great African universities perhaps partnering with American universities to say let's share some technology and content. We'll use our professors here. We'll keep tuition at a level that's competitive here,
but offer a diploma and certificate that that make you a global citizen. And what kinds of sharing will make sense in that world, I think is going to play out really differently in different parts of the world than with different schools.

Greta Van Susteren: So who, post covid with a vaccine, who loses in doing this distance learning with higher education?

John Katzman: Every industry, every sector that is disrupted by technology has tended to consolidate. There are fewer newspapers than there were. There are fewer of everything stores. There will be fewer universities, each with more students and so the losers will be colleges and universities that don't have a strong enough brand either nationally or regionally to compete against schools that are have stronger reputations and are able to drive their technology, increase their capacity, lower their costs and now you're against a competitor who is better known, less expensive and more flexible in terms of technology and you'll go out of business.

Greta Van Susteren: Sir, Thank you very much for joining me.

John Katzman: No, thank you for having me, Greta

[[ GRETA ]]

The United Nations says ..

40 percent …

of the poorest countries...

are failing to support....

at-risk students....

during the pandemic.

In Uganda …

new broadcast channels ...

have been created ...

to help fill that gap.

VOA’s Halima Athumani (PRONO: Hall-EE-ma Ahth-MAH-knee)

tells us about the challenges ...

parents face in this new reality.

[[PKG]]

((NARRATOR))

Fourteen-year-old Ugandan Musa Ssewanyana has mastered the art of brick laying.

He should be in high school – laying the foundation of his education.

But since Uganda closed schools in March, to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Ssewaynyana has few options.

((Musa Ssewanyana, High School Student, (Luganda, 11 secs))

“During this school break, I am still reading my books. If we get money, we switch the TV on and follow the teachings. But I also do odd jobs, so I don’t spend the whole day at home.”

((NARRATOR))

Unlike families who are financially able to study online, Ssewanyana’s cannot always afford the power needed to watch lessons on state TV or the $3 per day subscription.


His mother, Nayigga Rashidah, says the past five months have been difficult with her three children at home.

((Nayigga Rashidah, Mother (Luganda, 17 secs))

“I don’t have electricity. I had even bought them a new television set knowing they would use it to study. But there are times when even the solar battery doesn’t charge, and the television goes off.”

((NARRATOR))

Uganda vowed to buy televisions and radios for poor communities with schoolchildren but has yet to act.


A $150 million July World Bank grant is expected to soon help provide learning materials for students nation-wide.

But some Ugandan education authorities say the damage is already done, including from school properties that were sold off or sitting vacant.

((Mulindwa Ismail, Acting Director of Basic Education, Ministry of Education, (English, 25 secs))

“The chairs, the what, some of them are eaten by ants. So, by the time we reopen schools we may need now to replenish…to buy another set of furniture... But that said, loss of jobs for our teachers and what, losing property. But even losing our learners. We are worried a sizeable percentage may not come back to school.”

((NARRATOR))
Education charity groups like Uwezo, which means ‘capability’ in Kiswahili, say COVID-19 has caused both a health and education crisis.

When schools eventually reopen, says Uwezo Executive Director Mary Goretti Nakabugo, children will have to make up for lost time.

((Mary Goretti Nakabugo, Executive Director, Uwezo ((English,19 secs))

“The starting point will be to try and give a simple assessment to understand the level at which each of these kids is at. Otherwise, if you take them as a whole, many of them are going to be left behind and the ones who are going to be left behind, are mainly the ones in the low-income families.”

((NARRATOR))

Meanwhile, Uganda’s Ministry of Education is planning a campaign aimed at parents to encourage home schooling.

((Halima Athumani, for VOA News, Kampala.))

[[GRETA]]

The pandemic’s impact ...

on colleges and universities ...

has also touched ...

our “Plugged In” team.

Our two interns …

who are pursuing ...

Bachelors and Masters degrees...

in international relations ...

politics and business ...

have had to navigate ...

learning and living at college ...

in the era of COVID-19.

We asked them to share ...

their experience.

[[SOT]]

Arjun Ramachandran, VOA Intern: hello, my name is Arjun Ramachandran. I'm currently in my third year at Carnegie Mellon University. Going into the semester, no one really knew what would happen: what happened with the pandemic, how schools would handle bringing students back to campus, it was all really in disarray throughout the summer. Even going into the semester, my parents were really worried, as I'm sure all parents were.

This semester, I'm doing a program in DC, so along with working at Voice of America, and on the Plugged In team, I'm taking classes on CMU’s DC campus. Our program is quite small, only about 14 people, so we're able to have in-person classes this semester. And the school has taken abundance of caution by mandating social distancing, mask wearing, and even deep cleaning the classroom every single night. Although we have not had any covid cases so far, there are several contingencies plans in place to make sure, in case there is a case, it doesn't impact the rest of the program, or impact the faculty and the students. Although we may not be getting the full DC experience this semester such as going to the Kennedy Center for concerts or going to the Smithsonian, being here during election season and working at VOA and on the Plugged In team, who have some of the most amazing people I've met, these experiences are something I'll always cherish and I'll never forget.

Cassie Passantino, VOA Intern: Hi, my name is Cassie Passantino, and I am currently a graduate student at the Catholic University of America in the Masters of Science in Business program. My program’s a cohort so the 37 of us actually take all of our classes together. So we've just been meeting in an auditorium, two seats apart, two rows apart, six feet on all sides. We wear masks, we have Plexiglass between us and our professors, just to keep us, and everybody else safe. In addition to school right now, I am also completing an internship with Voice of America's Plugged In. And I think that's been the biggest change in how I'm used to doing internships. Though we have gotten a pretty good system going of how we've been doing work, getting the show on the air even remote, it's it's definitely a little bit sad to know that I will never actually meet in person, or at least not in the foreseeable future, the teammates that I have been working with. But at the end of the day we've been so grateful and I've been so grateful to be able to take classes in person and to not have to do another semester of zoom university. And I feel like most of my classmates have been feeling the same way, despite all the bumps in the road and things not going in the semester not looking exactly how we expected it to -- still being able to make the best of it, get the most out of our education, be with our professors in person, be with each other in person, and be able to have the best grad experience possible, despite these very crazy times and despite all of the changes that have been going on.

[[GRETA]]

That’s all the time …

we have for now.

Thank you to my guests …

Lynn Pasquerella ...

and John Katzman.

Also, thanks ...

to our interns ...

who did a great job ...

helping to produce ...

this episode.

Stay up to date …

with our website …

VOANews.com.

And follow me on Twitter @Greta.

Thank you for being Plugged In.

###

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