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 Madalitso Kamenya, a student pursuing his master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

The lockdown caused by COVID-19 has created great challenges for Madalitso. Trapped in a student bedroom at his university, he has been trying to keep a daily routine that includes physical exercise, conversations with family and friends in his home country of Malawi, and academic assignments. For him, being alone and isolated is one of the most difficult parts of this pandemic, but technology has played an important role in helping him stay connected with people.

Madalitso remains optimistic and believes the world will be a better place after COVID-19, but he also doesn’t believe this is the last pandemic we will face.  He believes this situation presents opportunities for us to change the way we do things and universities should continue exploring new ways of teaching so we will have systems in place if there is another pandemic. Listen to the full interview with Madalitso Kamenya here.

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