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This article — one of the winning entries in the 2023 FT/World Bank student blog competition — is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.

Who is responsible for learning losses from Covid-19? Is it the Kazakh government which failed to provide internet to remote areas of the country within the first months of the pandemic? Or is it students like me, who logged in to Zoom at 7.55am from bed while still wearing pyjamas, with more interest in sleeping than in learning?

Now, it does not matter. What matters is removing educational gaps and preparing for our future. Perhaps, my government failed to care about eradicating corruption. Perhaps, it failed to care about the old. But never did it fail to care about the young.

Although it took months to establish the online educational infrastructure, it continues to support it. In fact, the hybrid study approach solved an even earlier pre-pandemic problem.

Previously, schools in northern Kazakhstan were closed when temperatures fellow below -30C. Students would stay home for days or even weeks without learning anything. Today, by distributing more than 400,000 laptops to children in need and providing 5G internet to remote areas, most students can access education, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Yes, I blame students for learning losses, too. In the beginning of the pandemic, instead of setting up the table and opening a notebook to prepare for a morning class, most of us lounged in our comfortable beds.

When it was time to return to in-person classes, we realised how much we lost. It was time to act! And just as bees build hives, piece by piece, we started building back our community and regaining our lost knowledge.

For example, at my school, teachers tutored us in STEM and humanities during office hours. To demonstrate our gratitude, we regularly organised musical performances. Today, the school hive that we carefully constructed has become more resilient than it ever was before the pandemic.

Painfully but effectively, Covid-19 has permanently changed our educational system for the better. While we are still in recovery mode, the system promotes its initiatives to prepare the young for their future. It highlights the flexibility and efficiency of hybrid education that can later be implemented at work.

Besides, a steady move towards a completely paperless approach pushes us towards becoming environmentally sustainable. Indeed, the educational system not only assists us in preparing for our future jobs but also prepares us to remain resilient during unpredictable events such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Occasionally, I still log in to my morning Zoom class wearing pyjamas when it is -30C. Yet, instead of lying in bed, I readily sit at my desk to learn and become a citizen who cares.

Aizhan Karpykova is a student at Daryn Lyceum in Kazakhstan

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