Hatred to the other is one of the main sources as much as commandments in Islam. It is this old inherent religiously commanded hatred that is behind the terrorism of Jihad against the infidels and the criminality of the Muslims in so many places and regions around the world.
Hatred cannot be detached from Islam because it is in fact indoctrinated and motivated by Islam. The Nazi era has taught us that hatred is one of the most important policies that lead to apartheid and genocide. The Qur’an teaches hatred and commands to hate the infidels. The Islamic Caliphate State (ICS) is proving it time and again, even by destroying the archeological sites, the wonders of the old Middle East.
Consider the elements that define hate speech: drawing a moral comparison based on distinction between one’s own identity group and those outside of it; dehumanization of other groups and insistence of personal superiority against these groups; and a call to all kind of atrocities perpetuated against other groups.
The Islamic Shari‘ah qualifies as hate religion on each and every count by which we define hate speech. There is no other religion that draws such sharp distinction between its community of believers and others outside Islam.
a) Its message inspire loathing for others and the Qur’an mandates the superiority of Islam by all means. According to Muslim exegetes, there are seven major features of the superiority of Arab-Muslims over others, based on the Qur’an, among them, they are the best Ummah ever brought forth to men, bidding good (Ma’rûf) and forbidding evil (Munkar); they hold the pillar of superiority over all other world communities; and they will wage war on the people of error and the Anti-Christ.
b) It draws a deep distinction between Muslims and the others, called Kuffār, and it incites to violence and hatred. Islam is ethnocentric religion and political culture. It differentiates the world between Dār al-Islām against Dār al-Harb; between the good and righteous society and the bad and unclean society. It is Halāl against Haram; it is the right against wrong; it is the pious against the evil-doers; it is Paradise or Hell. There is nothing positive in the Qur’an and the Sharī‘ah for non-Muslims who are all infidels.
c) It perpetuate legitimizes atrocities and butchering of non-Muslims whenever they are. There are 527 verses that are intolerant to the infidels, and 109 verses calling on Muslims to make war on the infidels. As Muslims see it, Islam is for everyone in the human race and should be expanded as a winning religion, by force or persuasion, until all human beings proclaim that “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.” Jihad is universally understood as war on behalf of Islam, and its merits are described plentifully in the most-respected religious works.
In ancient as much as in contemporary world, Islamic dominance is characterized by the oppression and discrimination of non-Muslims, all defined as infidels (Kuffār, Kāfirun). There are no “unbelievers” or “disbelievers” in the Qur’an and the Sharī‘ah at large but only infidels or apostates. This is not only a subjective issue, but deep categorical. ‘Unbeliever’ can get neutral in conception, ‘infidel’ is totally different. The pattern of aggressive violence and disregard for human suffering is persistent in Islam and reflects the message of the Qur’an, which is one of superiority, loath and hatred. 64 percent of the Qur’an and 61 percent of the overall Sharī‘ah is related to the infidels, and there is not even one positive stand in favor for them. They are all an integral part of the abode of Hellfire.
The Kuffār are the vilest animals and beasts; the worst of creatures and demons, perverted transgressors and partners of Satan (al-‘Imrān, 3:82, 110; al-Nisā’, 4:76; al-A‘arāf, 7:176; al-Anfāl, 8:55). The Kuffār are to be beheaded. Muslims must strike off their heads and their fingertips (al-Anfāl, 8:12; Muhammad, 47:4). The Kuffār are to be terrorized. Muslims are to cast terror into the hearts of the infidels, their abode is the Hell-fire (al-‘Imrān, 3:151; al-Anfāl, 8:12, 8:60; al-Ahzāb, 33:26; al-Hashr, 59:2). The Kuffār are to be annihilated until the religion of Allah is the only one. They are to be killed wherever they are found, since persecution is severer than slaughter. Muslims are obliged to slay them until there is no persecution, and religion is only Allah’s. This commandment includes not only the infidels and the idolaters, but also the hypocrites and the polytheists, as their abode is Hell-fire (al-Baqarah, 2:191; 193; al-Nisā’, 4:89, 91; al-Anfāl, 8:39; al-Taubah, 9:36, 73, 111, 123; al-Tahrīm, 66:9). The Kuffār are to be crucified (al-Mā’idah, 5:33). They are the constant fuel of the fire burn in Hell (al-‘Imrān, 3:10; al-Taubah, 9:17; Ibrāhīm, 14:30; al-Nahl, 16:29; al-Anbīyā’, 21:98; al-Hajj, 22:19; al-Ahzāb, 33:64; al-Saff, 61:11; al-Mû’min, 48:13). “Hostility and hate” exist between the Kuffār and the Muslim believers forever until they “believe in Allah alone” (al-Taubah, 9:28, 32, 69).
The Egyptian intellectual Sami al-Rabbā’ has elaborated:
If you say that Islam is a violent faith, you are accused of being anti-Islam and “Islamophobe”. Yet, the main of the Qur’an are passages full of incitement and hatred, Jihad-killing and war-mongering.
The educational system is the main source of indoctrination and socialization to hatred and it works almost as a production line. The Muslims start the politics of hatred and Jihad ideology from infancy. The children learn to hate before everything, even without knowing why: at home, in the mosques and in schools, Madāris. They hate the infidels, because they are what they are, and not because they know anything about them. The hatred is in their drink and foods, and this fuel directs and motivates the massacres and lynches that are so pervasive around the world.
The contemporary radicalization of the Muslim youth, the “third generation” Muslims living in the Western world is enormous and alarming. A report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization in London claims that “European jihadists in Syria are more numerous than official statistics indicate. Indeed, they point to the existence of entire French-speaking and German-speaking brigades in the Aleppo region.” Many of them are radicalizing through the Internet extremist websites and YouTube videos; others are led by imams at mosques; and others, converted to Islam, men and women, volunteer for sex Jihad.
Sa’id al-Hamad, a liberal thinker from Bahrain
The ‘culture of backwardness’ dominates the Arab world, and it includes ‘culture of terrorism,’ which adopts beheading and lynching people; and the ‘culture of hatred,’ which propagates in the minds and consciousness of the youth deep hatred to the world.
Islam’s conceptions and behavior
Muslim groups and organizations are violent politically and fanatic religiously. Muslims cover their activities by using religious argumentations as an excuse and motivation to their behavior towards the other. Whether they butcher and cut-off heads of infidels of the West; or terrorize their own Muslim believers, Sunnis and Shiites; or massacre minorities of all kinds, mainly Christians; or when they establish Islamic institutions and mosques in Western states; or when they commit acts of horrible homicide bombings and terrorism; or when they conquer, Islamize and Arabize vast territories; or when they commit ethnic cleansing, apartheid and mass holocausts — for example, the Hindus and the Armenians in the past, and Christians today; or when they coerce and intimidate, Muslims always claim they do it in defense.
Another astonishing issue is that Muslim exegetes, preachers and propagators speak only in complete and absolute terms about their religion’s values, without the slightest self-criticism and doubts: ‘Islam is absolutely a religion of peace and harmony;’ ‘Islam is totally devoted to promote peace around the world;’ ‘Jihad is absolutely and totally defined in terms of defense;’ ‘aggression is used only rarely, when the Muslims have no other choice to defend their religion and their self;’ ‘there is nothing in Islam that is against tolerance, democracy and peaceful relations;’ and ‘Islam tolerates all other religions, acts peacefully and preaches for human cooperation and collaboration.’
One finds these slogans abound in books, article, and media resources. It is so pervasive and so totalistic that it becomes almost impossible to argue and to debate with them. Their cultural conceptions; their totalistic approach as being always and under all circumstances the righteous side; and their ethnocentric conceptions make it impossible to argue with them in rational and according to the ‘golden rule’ values.
However, when one elaborates the many verses of the Qur’an and the commandments of the Shrī’ah, he immediately attacked and mocked off as an ignorant of Islam and dismissed as being biased evil Muslim: “you don’t understand the real true meaning of the scriptures;” “you don’t know Arabic;” “you hate Islam and prove Islamophobia exists;” “you prove by your words the white man discrimination of imperialism and colonialism;” “you are racist and oppressive;” and other accusations according to Arab-Islamic imagination and aggression.
What Arab-Islamic history and contemporary tell us?
This is the political language of the Muslim scholars, spokesmen and propagators. Yet, one has to recall the following: the origin of the Arabs and Islam is in Arabian Peninsula. All the vast areas that have been conquered from year 632 on are the result of one of the deepest colonialist and imperialist occupation characterized by process of Arabization and Islamization of the occupied territories. The Middle East was mainly Pharaonic; Phoenician; Babilonian; Ugarit; Chaldean; Jewish, and Berber in North-Africa. Iran was Sassanid; Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan were Buddhist. Indeed, Islamic occupations of the Middle East, North Africa, parts of Europe and Asia were all imperialist-colonialist of the worst kind, as they have constantly become Arabized and Islamized.
The invasion out of Arabia was conducted under political ideological ambitions clocked in a religious banner and as an intrinsic part of Islamic doctrine. This process of occupation ended by ethnic cleansing and deportations of the indigenous population; massacres and genocide of peoples; huge slavery by hundreds of millions; and racist policies of Apartheid.
The Palestinian sociologist, Ali ‘Issa Othman, states his conviction that
The spread of Islam was military. There is a tendency to apologize for this, and we should not. It is one of the injunctions of the Qur’an that you must fight for the spreading of Islam.
Indeed, Islam has never been a tolerant, peaceful religion. It is not intolerant as a response to other’s intolerance, but it is inherently intolerant, racist and war-mongering by itself, according to its religious doctrine. Islamic hostility that practices a policy of systematic Jihad against the other are not a modern phenomenon, but deeply rooted in the Qur’an. It has been operated systematically from the 7th century on until today.
Moreover, against the religious command to love their own fellow believers, Muslims massacre by millions other Muslims. Today, it is represented by the emergence of groups and organizations that follow the Islamic ancestors’ tradition, Salafiyah, with the following division: traditional (Salafīyah Taqlīdīyah), represented by the Muslim Brotherhood parties; Jihadi (Salafīyah Jihadīyah), represented by al-Qaeda and its regional organizations (like AQAP, AQIM, al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria); and Takfīri (Salafiyah Takfīrīyah), represented the Islamic Caliphate State.
The objectives of Islamic hatred
The Qur’an makes it clear that Islam is not about universal brotherhood and cooperation, but the brotherhood of the community of believers. The Qur’an says that all other religions as such are cursed by Allah. Whoever does not believe in Muhammad and totally follow him; whoever contends with Muhammad and Islamic tenets it means heresy that deserves death. It is the nature of Islam to dominate and not to be dominated; to rule and not to be ruled; to be superior on all the infidels. The Muslim vision is clear: there is one universe, and it must be under the banner of Islam. All humanity must submit to Islam as the supreme religion.
The Islamic excuses of the past are no more relevant. The claims they revenge only at acts that are committed against them; acts that humiliate their honor and their souls; or for defense of their nation and soil; and all other sorts of fairy-tales for the consumption of Western media to publish and public opinion to impress – these excuses are no more relevant. The fact is that Muslim groups and organizations murder and butcher and operate all kinds of horrible atrocious acts of violence are exactly for political reasons under the cloak of religious issues and as a result of cultural reasoning. They wish to conquer the world, to impose their religion and culture, and they do not feel any shame or guilt remorse. From their vantage point, they are entitled to possess everything, as it is promised in the Qur’an. They have never given up the prophetic message that Islam must dominate the entire world, and they have all the patience (Sabr) in time to bring these ambitions come true.
The Saudi legal expert, Basem ‘Alem states it clearly:
As a member of the only true religion, I have a greater right to invade others in order to impose the Shari’ah, which history has proven to be the best and most just of all civilizations. This is the true meaning of Jihad. When we wage Jihad, it is not in order to convert people to Islam, but in order to liberate them from the dark slavery in which they live.
This is apparent in an interview with Ayat Allah Kamil, a Palestinian woman who had tried to carry out a suicide bombing. When asked by the Guardian journalist: “Do you have any dreams for the future?” She responded
My deep belief and wishes that the whole world becoming Islamic, a world in which we will all live in peace, joy, and harmony, all of us, human beings, animals, flowers, plants, and stones. Islam will even bring peace to vegetables and animals, the grass and the stones… And you will be able to remain Jewish, whatever you want; it doesn’t matter, but only in an Islamic world.
…and its consequences and repercussions
The Western world reaction to this reality if fear and intimidation. One of the fresh examples is the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of genital mutilation in infancy and a victim of Islamic persecution today. Now she has been subjected to yet another example of Western cowardice and hypocrisy. Brandeis University has decided not to award her an honorary degree. As Arnold Ahlert observes, Brandeis honored Desmond Tutu who was an overt anti-Semite, and asserted that the Holocaust’s gas chambers made for “a neater death” than did Apartheid. He regularly accuses the Jewish State of ethnic cleansing, and insists that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism.” Brandeis also honored the playwright Tony Kushner, despite his overt anti-Semitism for Israel. He also accused the Jewish State of ethnic cleansing, and insisted its creation “was a mistake.”
Nevertheless they have been given the honorary degree. A similar case was also the University of Haifa decision not to grant an honorary doctorate to Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael Aumann, “because of his political views,” but has awarded the extreme leftist anti-Zionist Shulamit Aloni the honorary degree without hesitation.
The question is why the academia, the media, and governments in the West, founded on liberalism and secularism, would not only refuse to counter Islamic Jihad and Da‘wah onslaught against other civilizations but even deny that Islam is not compatible with the basic values of freedoms and civil rights? The answer is surprisingly simple: because they are frightened, because they are intimidated and terrorized. They are frightened of being accused of Islamophobia and racism; they are intimidated by brutal savage forces that threaten and actually attack them; they are terrorized by anarchic and chaotic groups of ruffians; and they are paralyzed by Islam’s real intent to bring us all to its 7th century traditions and way of life. Part of them, mainly the academia and the cultural hedonists, act along these lines because they hate the west and its values and they perceive Islam as a cure to what they call ‘Western malaise;’ as they embrace sick and twisted ideologies based on neo-Bolshevism and neo-Fascism.
The best to exhibit the mired reality of this Western world’s situation is the example of the British newspaper, the Guardian’s cartoonist and head of the British Cartoonist Association, Tim Benson. Anti-Semite in profession, he often sketches horrible graphic cartoons against Israel, but never against Islam and the Palestinians. When asked about this, his answer was pure and simple: I am afraid. It means, he can draw anything against Israel, the Jews, Christianity and Buddhism, and nothing happens, but he would not dare to do that when Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians are concerned. He does not want to be persecuted like Salman Rushdie, or be butchered like Theo Van Goch, to mention the few.
The academia and the media worldwide are sick, and Israeli academia and media represent a pure tragic example of this sickness, because Israel is in the forefront of the war of civilizations, the last fortified dam before the deluge. Unless these two important organs of Western society’s body that hold crucial influence on the governmental apparatus decision making stop their submission and capitulation to the forces of evil, the Western world is doomed.
Those in power are still terrified of offending Islam. Honor killing is still overwhelmingly an Islamic tradition; gender equality simply does not exist within Muslim culture and jurisprudence; women still have very few rights and are treated like beasts in Muslim states; women rape victims are punished even to death in large parts of the Middle East; and women are still forced to cover their entire bodies in dark tent. Islamic immigration wrack and havoc Western societies; and the Muslim’s third generation proves to be the most extremist and fanatic, and still Western governments appease Islam and actually even unintentionally promote its victory.
The Muslim women’s clothing is the symbol to Western world’s sick era. If “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” then Western civilization is marching courageously to a dark era in which Islam determines the values of the future. This is a darkness era that clouds the minds of those in power in the West, as much as in the academia and the media, not to see the bright sights of Islam’s brutal onslaught of Jihad; not to hear the clear voices of Islam’s targets operated by Da‘wah; and not to smell the scent of Islamic blood-hunt that wishes to smash our freedoms and civil rights and to re-mold Western civilization according to their traditions.
This almost constitutes a perpeteum mobile, which leads to a simple mathematics: if the number of the Islamic fanatics produced by hatred is higher than those the Free World can neutralize, it means that it is losing the war of civilizations. Indeed, the Western world’s mired situation is so intimidating that it refuses to tell even to itself that Islam is engaging in a Third World War against us, and we even do not fight back, but appease and pay protection money. What we are really dealing with is not Islamophobia, but the acute danger of Islamophilia and Islamization of the Free World’s civilization.
WHO and Future Frontiers of Global Pandemic Governance
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the deep fissures among the countries with regards to governance of the pandemic .The uncoordinated and the haphazard knee-jerk reactions and policy nostrums is indicative of the abysmal sclerosis of the governance mechanisms of the WHO .While with the advent of the hyper-nationalism and kindred predilections of the countries in protectionist initiatives global governance across the issue areas has witnessed a diminishing efficacy or outright floundering, it is however in the health issue that the governance mechanism aimed at containing pandemic has unraveled deplorably.
The global efforts aimed at grappling with the unwieldy virus can be termed as a debacle as the hitherto infrastructure that framers of institutions have forged had met with outright disregard in favor with a harkening back to the 19th century protectionist attitudes where each country guided by their parochial interest had jealously guarded national sovereignty in order to safeguard their goals. The countries who were bound together through the robust bond of globalization had reacted to the pandemic with a spirit that is antithetical to the underlying rationales of globalization .Especially, European nations had maintained more sophisticated and intricate collective cooperation and n in effect had spawned a federal European identity. However, during the outbreak of the pandemic they had resorted to measures which is unbecoming of their collective identity and was emblematic of a realpolitik reckoning of state interest.
As with Europe, pandemic had unraveled the prolonged vacuous rhetoric of the country apropos international cooperation and global governance. While United States deem itself as the lone custodian of the liberal world order and underscore the necessity of cooperation in order to safeguard the collective freedom of the country, however at the beginning of the pandemic and throughout the turbulent pandemic period the preeminent country in the world had denigrated the global governance efforts in favor of its arm-twisting tactics and notoriously browbeaten India to secure crucial medical supplies. Besides, at the height of the pandemic far from concentrating collective efforts to halt the unceasing onslaught of the pandemic, United States had embroiled in bickering with the China over the origin of the Covid-19 virus and wielded mud-slinging and other measures to denigrate its prime geo-political adversary.
The victims of great powers’ unabashed skirmishes were however the less developed countries who hinge on global governance and collective cooperation in the pressing situation .However ,any consensus had been impeded due to the barrage of recriminations by both the United States and China. This wrangling had deflected the elite attention from the containment of the pandemic and provided ground for further aggravation of the global pandemic. Moreover, the reaction of the countries to the Covid-19 was haphazard and had been lacking in any coherent collective will in facing the pandemic.
The slipshod management of the global health crisis had been a characteristic of WHO despite the fundamental pillar underlying this paramount organization being the management and prevention of the world health crisis. Since its inception, however, WHO had fared miserably in its bid in containment of the numerous public health crisis .The earlier debacle of WHO was marked by dilatory response or unsolicited response. Moreover, WHO failed to mobilize due response in the face of pressing threats to global health. This is a consequence of the organization’s lack of coordinated effort and deficiency of any coercive capabilities. While WHO is entrusted with the paramount responsibility of managing international and collective response against public health crisis ,it is however devoid of any mechanism that and aren’t mandated to coerce its constituent states to abide by its regulations. Therefore, WHO and its efforts at countering the health crisis are often rendered futile due to the stubborn attitude of the countries and due to the unwieldy nature of global governance.
Therefore, the efficacy of the paramount institution that has been envisaged in order to shield the world from a disastrous public health crisis is increasingly hamstrung in want of a coordinated and refined mechanism. Against this backdrop, the surfacing of ominous novel variant Omicron has jolted the already fragile economic recovery in the world and run the risk of wiping the hard-earned gains in the wake of vaccination efforts. The current woe and resurfacing of the pandemic points towards the callous stance of the developed countries with regards to vaccination. While developed countries had inoculated their domestic population, they however is shilly shallying about mounting a coordinated global effort in confronting the global pandemic. This has meant that a excruciatingly slow vaccination rate in the African region. The fact that this virus had originated in Africa is indicative of a ominous message and suggest that due to dilatory vaccination efforts globally bulk of the developing and lower developed countries remain outside the vaccination and the virus are mutating incessantly through these unvaccinated population are growing more virulent .
Moreover, until a substantial percentage of people come under the ambit of vaccination, it will be remain herculean task of extirpating the Covid menace. However, there are paucity of sincere efforts from the has undermined WHO’s overtures aimed at a coordinated vaccination program had faltered due to the callous and apathetic attitude of the developing nations. Besides, the profit-guzzling pharmaceuticals companies had found a windfall of endless profiteering from the plight of pandemic and in effect weaponized pandemic as a means to monopolizing their vaccines and other medical goods and safeguarding this inordinate market dominance under the questionable TRIPs .
Against this backdrop, the world requires a well-coordinated, hierarchical, top-down and systemic institution with the capacity of the managing the global health crisis with efficiency .Besides, the new governance mechanism need to be modeled on other organizations that wield capacity of sanction and can exert pressure on the government if any country doesn’t abide by its dictates. Besides, rather than inefficacious and toothless organization , an efficient management of global health crisis is required in order to persuasively deal with the global health crisis. A treaty needs to be formulated with all of the countries entrusting their partial sovereign power to the organization and should abide by the injunction of the organization. Moreover, an overhaul of infrastructure of global health governance is presupposed in order to confront the pressing challenges of the imminent health crisis.
Partnering with persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world
As the world observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today, we honour the leadership of persons with disabilities and their tireless efforts to build a more inclusive, accessible and sustainable world. At the same time, we resolve to work harder to ensure a society that is open and accommodating of all.
An estimated 690 million persons with disabilities, around 15 per cent of the total population, live in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of them continue to be excluded from socio-economic and political participation. Available data suggests that persons with disabilities are almost half as likely to be employed as persons without disabilities. They are also half as likely to have voted in an election and are underrepresented in government decision-making bodies. Just about 0.5 per cent of parliamentarians in the region are persons with disabilities. Women with disabilities are even less likely to be employed and hold only 0.1 per cent of national parliament positions.
One of the main reasons behind these exclusions is a lack of accessibility. Public transportation and the built environment in general — including public offices, polling stations, workplaces, markets and other essential structures — lack ramps, walkways and basic accessibility features. Accessibility, however, goes beyond the commonly thought of physical structures. Barriers to access to services and information and communication technology must also be removed, to allow for the participation of persons with diverse types of disabilities, including persons with intellectual disabilities and hearing and vision impairments.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns has exacerbated existing inequalities. Many persons with disabilities face increased health concerns due to comorbidities and were left without access to their personal assistants and essential goods and services. As much of society moved online during lockdowns, inaccessible digital infrastructure meant persons with disabilities could not access public health information or online employment opportunities.
Despite these challenges, persons with disabilities and their organizations were among the first to respond to the immediate needs of their communities for food and supplies during lockdowns in addition to continuing their long-term work to support vulnerable groups.
ESCAP partnered with several of these organizations to support their work during the pandemic. Samarthyam, a civil society organization in India led by a woman with disabilities, has trained many men and women with disabilities to conduct accessibility audits in their home districts. With these skills, they are becoming leaders and advocates in their communities, working towards improving the accessibility of essential buildings everywhere.
Another ESCAP partner, the National Council for the Blind of Malaysia (NCBM), is working to improve digital accessibility by training a group with diverse disabilities in web access auditing, accessible e-publishing and strategic advocacy. NCBM hopes to support participants in forming a social enterprise for web auditing and accessible publishing, creating employment opportunities and enabling persons with disabilities to lead efforts to improve online accessibility.
Women and men with disabilities have been leaders and champions to break barriers to make a difference in Asia and the Pacific. Today, ESCAP launches the report “Disability at a Glance 2021: The Shaping of Disability-inclusive Employment in Asia and the Pacific.” The report highlights some innovative approaches to making employment more inclusive, as well as recommendations on how to further reduce employment gaps.
Adjusting to a post-COVID-19 world presents an opportunity for governments to reassess and implement policies to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities in employment, decision making bodies and all aspects of society. Accessibility issues impact not only persons with disabilities but also other people in need of assistance, including older persons, pregnant women or those with injuries. Implementing policies with universal design, which creates environments and services that are useable by all people, benefits the whole of society. Governments should mainstream universal design principles into national development plans, not only in disability-specific laws and policies.
As a global leader in disability-inclusive development for over 30 years, the Asia-Pacific region has set an example by adopting the world’s first set of disability-specific development goals in the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real.” Meeting the Incheon Strategy goals will require governments to intensify their efforts to reduce barriers to education, employment and political participation.
At ESCAP, we know that achieving an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID-19 world will only be possible with increased leadership and participation of persons with disabilities. To build back better — and fairer — we will continue to strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders so together we can “Make the Right Real” for all persons with disabilities.
Remote Learning during the pandemic: Lessons from today, principles for tomorrow
Education systems around the world reacted to COVID-19 by closing schools and rolling out remote learning options for their students as an emergency response. New World Bank analysis of early evidence reveals that while remote learning has not been equally effective everywhere, hybrid learning is here to stay.
Going forward, for remote learning to deliver on its potential, the analysis shows the need to ensure strong alignment between three complementary components: effective teaching, suitable technology, and engaged learners.
“Hybrid learning – which combines in-person and remote learning – is here to stay. The challenge will be the art of combining technology and the human factor to make hybrid learning a tool to expand access to quality education for all,” emphasized Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education. “Information technology is only a complement, not a substitute, for the conventional teaching process – particularly among preschool and elementary school students. The importance of teachers, and the recognition of education as essentially a human interaction endeavor, is now even clearer.”
The twin reports, Remote Learning During the Global School Lockdown: Multi-Country Lessons and Remote Learning During COVID-19: Lessons from Today, Principles for Tomorrow, stress that three components are critical for remote learning to be effective:
- Prioritizing effective teachers: a teacher with high subject content knowledge, skills to use technology, and appropriate pedagogical tools and support is more likely to be effective at remote instruction.
- Adopting suitable technology: availability of technology is a necessary but not sufficient condition for effective remote learning.
- Ensuring learners are engaged: for students to be engaged, contextual factors such as the home environment, family support, and motivation for learning must be well aligned.
The reports found that many countries struggled to ensure take-up and some even found themselves in a remote learning paradox: choosing a distance learning approach unsuited to the access and capabilities of a majority of their teachers and students.
“Emerging evidence on the effectiveness of remote learning during COVID-19 is mixed at best,” said Cristóbal Cobo, World Bank Senior Education and Technology Specialist, and co-author of the two reports. “Some countries provided online digital learning solutions, although a majority of students lacked digital devices or connectivity, thus resulting in uneven participation, which further exacerbated existing inequalities. Other factors leading to low student take-up are unconducive home environments; challenges in maintaining children’s engagement, especially that of younger children; and low digital literacy of students, teachers, and/or parents.”
“While pre-pandemic access to technology and capabilities to use it differed widely within and across countries, limited parental engagement and support for children from poor families has generally hindered their ability to benefit from remote learning,” stressed Saavedra.
Despite these challenges with remote learning, this can be an unprecedented opportunity to leverage its potential to reimagine learning and to build back more effective and equitable education systems. Hybrid learning is part of the solution for the future to make the education process more effective and resilient.
The reports offer the following five principles to guide country efforts going forward:
Ensure remote learning is fit-for-purpose. Countries should choose modes of remote learning that are suitable to the access and utilization of technology among both teachers and students, including digital skills, and that teachers have opportunities to develop the technical and pedagogical competencies needed for effective remote teaching.
Use technology to enhance the effectiveness of teachers. Teacher professional development should develop the skills and support needed to be an effective teacher in a remote setting.
Establish meaningful two-way interactions. Using the most appropriate technology for the local context, it is imperative to enable opportunities for students and teachers to interact with each other with suitable adaptations to the delivery of the curriculum.
Engage and support parents as partners in the teaching and learning process. It is imperative that parents (families) are engaged and supported to help students access remote learning and to ensure both continuity of learning and protect children’s socioemotional well-being.
Rally all actors to cooperate around learning. Cooperation across all levels of government; as well as partnerships between the public and private sector, and between groups of teachers and school principals; is vital to the effectiveness of remote learning and to ensure that the system continues to adapt, learn, and improve in an ever-changing remote learning landscape.
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