Published on World Bank Voices

Announcing winners of the fifth World Bank and Financial Times youth blog competition

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Winners, 5th Annual World Bank/Financial Times Youth Written Blog Competition


It’s been a complicated—and often frustrating—few years for students all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly changed the way children around the world learn.  Remote classes. Closures. Masks. It was a lot to deal with, and the long-term consequences could be severe.

So, what lessons can we learn from the past three difficult years? High schoolers have a lot of thoughts on the matter, and they weren’t hesitant to share them in the World Bank-Financial Times Youth Blog Competition. We wanted to know how their countries’ education systems are recovering from the learning losses of the pandemic and what more can be done to prepare people for the jobs of the future.

We asked high schoolers aged 16 to 19 from around the world to provide their insights on learning after three years of the global pandemic in up to 500 words in English, French, Spanish, or Arabic. We received nearly 500 entries from students around the world. They told us what they’ve experienced—the good and the bad—and they offered fresh insights on how education has evolved and how schools should better position young people for the world of work.

Our judging panel selected three winning entries from the many strong blogs that students submitted. The winners are Aizhan Karpykova from Kazakhstan, Chinmayee Bhattacharjee from India, and Xara Orji from Nigeria. 

Common themes emerged across the entries we received. Many students lamented the digital divide: across the world, internet access remains limited or poor quality.  This means learning experiences during lockdown, and the baseline for recovery as schools reopen, continues to be varied, even within countries or communities. Another recurrent theme, especially for those with access to on-line learning, was the role of the student in their learning journey, and how at-home schooling emphasized the need for students to take responsibility and to engage in the learning process. Many felt that the new levels of independence, flexibility, and resilience that the lockdown engendered were attributes that should be fostered going forward—and key ones for adapting to the world of work. Repeatedly, the importance of further training and exposure to digital skills was emphasized as a way for students to prepare for the jobs of the future. 

The pandemic’s effect on young people’s mental health was repeatedly raised, as well as calls for a greater focus on emotional literacy and well-being in curriculums—a more holistic approach with further emphasis on encouraging creativity and critical thinking. These skills are seen as essential as the world of work becomes increasingly automated. 

Among the winning entries, Aizhan hails the renewal of in-person classes and interaction, and delights in the flexibility that hybrid learning has brought to Kazakhstan, helping circumvent a long-standing issue of weather-induced school shutdowns. Chinmayee celebrates the ‘silver lining’ of students discovering more autonomy in their learning and the improved accessibility and quality of on-line materials in India. Xara highlights how infrastructure and education systems are so closely entwined, and how the pandemic experience is leading to new investment in education and digital skills in Nigeria. 

Congratulations to Aizhan, Chinmayee, and Xara, and thanks to all the students from around the world who sent in creative, thoughtful, and innovative submissions! 

Winning Entries:


Authors

Iona Lee

Nordic Desk Communications

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