UNESCO estimates that over 1.5 billion students in 165 countries are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced the global academic community to explore news ways of teaching and learning, including distance and online education. This has proved challenging for both students and educators, who have to deal with the emotional, physical and economic difficulties posed by the illness while doing their part to help curb the spread of the virus.  The future is uncertain for everyone, particularly for millions of students scheduled to graduate this year who will face a world crippled economically by the pandemic. 

In the COVID-19 and higher education series, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) talks to students, educators and researchers in different parts of the world to find out how COVID-19 has affected them and how they are coping with the changes. The series also aims to highlight the lessons learned and potential positive outcomes of the global lockdown for higher education.

In this interview we are talking to Heba Hany, who is about to complete her double master’s degree in Education Management and International Leadership at the University of Ludwisburg (Germany) and Helwan University (Egypt).

Heba also works as a teacher at an international school in Cairo, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Because of the coronavirus, she had to stop teaching, which led to a reduction in her family income. The pandemic also changed her study plan; in the final phase of her postgraduate studies, Heba is facing difficulties conducting interviews and gathering the necessary data to finalize her thesis. In addition, her graduation ceremony, scheduled to take place in September this year, has been postponed as a result of COVID-19.

For Heba, the most challenging part of this pandemic is the self-isolation. As someone who enjoys working, shopping and going to the gym, she found staying at home all the time suffocating. Describing the current situation in Egypt, Heba noticed that the country’s response is divided between those who have more access to information and believe in the effectiveness of quarantine, and those who are less educated and do not follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Despite all the challenges, Heba believes that after this pandemic, people will become more hygienic and caring, and have a great appreciation for family connections and the simple things in life. Listen to the full interview with Heba here.

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