COVID-19 and the ‘New Normal’ in Education: Exacerbating Existing Inequities in Education

  • Yusuf Sayed
  • Marcina Singh
  • Thelma Mort
Keywords: Policymaking; Education policy; Equity; COVID-19; Pandemic; Teaching and learning; South Africa


This paper considers education responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, with specific reference to South Africa, examining how inequality has been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic. It outlines how education policy choices are shaped and how the (mis)use of evidence highlights the lack of meaningful and robust involvement by key education stakeholders and social science specialists, particularly from the critical tradition. COVID-19 has intensified and sharpened social, political and economic fragilities and inequities globally, forcing governments to (re)think responses to social problems and disruptions. This paper underscores three dimensions of inequity in education as a result of the pandemic: equitable teaching and learning during the lockdown and school closures; inequities that may result from the (re)opening of schools in the ‘new normal’; and the lack of attention to psychosocial support and professional development. The paper argues that while this pandemic may be new, it has exacerbated existing inequities in education provision, intensified by the COVID-19 disaster management and education policy. The paper argues for a progressive approach to education transformation in response to this pandemic and future crises and disruptions.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1728-774X