The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the most disruptive occurrence that has threatened to destabilise almost all aspects of civilisation as we know it today. Its impact on education, particularly international education, has been profound. It is imperative that the world benefits from lessons learned in handling the pandemic, to inform the recovery of the international education sector, and to guide policies and measures to help the sector survive and thrive through similar crises in the future. This study employs the qualitative method to study how international education leaders managed the COVID-19 pandemic. The Qualitative method is favoured because the study’s objective requires considering leaders’ perspectives, views, and experiences regarding handling the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international education. The study population is 30 participants, from 10 strategically selected countries, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, China, South Africa, and the United States, with three participants selected through purposive sampling from each of the ten countries. The study employs an exploratory research design and uses individual semi-structured interviews for data collection. The study’s results suggest that international school students and parents experienced adverse effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced academic performance, financial difficulties, and negative impacts on mental health. Reduced efficiency amid COVID-19 interventions and the development of efficiency tools such as assignment submission portals exemplify the responses that bore favourable results, just as the establishment of guidance and counselling programs points toward how the pandemic helped highlight areas for improvement, both through programs and policy development. The study synthesises the perspectives and experiences of international school leaders as the prism through which to gain a perspective and understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted international schools, establishing key insights that will help international education recover successfully and prepare for its future growth in the face of future extreme occurrences. Future research should study how adverse and extreme events such as the COVID-19 pandemic affect teacher motivation and determine specific ways for international education institutions to diversify their income sources to cushion themselves against economic shocks orchestrated by occurrences such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19, schools, crisis
29 September 2023 14:44