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Story | Education
6 December 2020

To what extent can mothers support children’s education on their own, QF professor asks

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To what extent can mothers support children’s education on their own, QF professor asks

Image source: Prostock-studio, via Shutterstock

Veli Safak, from QF partner university CMU-Q, notes that households have experienced the loss of employment income by more than 66 percent with children enrolled in distance learning

As the world continues to grapple with the disruption that’s been brought on by the pandemic, and education remains mostly online, parents – mostly mothers – are expected to continue working, while also taking care of the household and children’s education. Studies suggest that one of the factors behind the disproportionate rise of the unemployment rate among married women has been the disruption in education.

Households with children enrolled in distance learning experienced loss of employment income 66 percent more often than those for whom the pandemic did not affect how children received education

Veli Safak

“Households with children enrolled in distance learning experienced loss of employment income 66 percent more often than those for whom the pandemic did not affect how children received education,” Veli Safak, Assistant Teaching Professor in Economics, at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university, said.

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Veli Safak, Assistant Teaching Professor in Economics, at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q)

“Until the economic conditions begin to improve, we will continue to observe high unemployment rates. At this stage, economic solutions are limited to fiscal stimulus and quantitative easing to support those who lost their jobs and prevent further job losses.”

Safak noted that the question to ask is – to what extent can we expect mothers to support their children’s education on their own?

Establishing the distance learning infrastructure has already cost countries large sums. Not using this infrastructure after the pandemic will mean a waste of resources

Veli Safak

The survey estimates that nearly a quarter of households lack stable internet access to online learning platforms. More than 10 percent of adults caring for children not in school or daycare do not have a high school degree, and less than 20 percent of them have a bachelor’s degree. The lack of support for mothers struggling with distance learning deteriorates the quality of education children receive. And mothers have expressed many times on social media that this heavy lifting also causes anxiety and creates a stressful the home environment.

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According to Safak, as the number of students continuously rises over time, distance learning services must be maintained after the pandemic to educate the public in a cost-efficient way. Image source: Hananeko Studio, via Shutterstock

As the number of students continuously rises over time, distance learning services must be maintained after the pandemic to educate the public in a cost-efficient way, Safak says. “According to a Planning and Statistics Authority report, the total number of students in kindergarten, preparatory schools, primary schools, and secondary schools was around 270,000 during the 2017/2018 academic year.

“Establishing the distance learning infrastructure has already cost countries large sums. Not using this infrastructure after the pandemic will mean a waste of resources. Personally, I greatly benefited from the educational television channel in Turkey as a middle school student 20 years ago.”

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Image source: Marina Andrejchenko, via Shutterstock

Safak and a team of student researchers – Mariam Ahmed, Daisy Ru, and Ihsane Sadiki – came up with the simplest and most effective ways to deliver high-quality education and reduce the burden on mothers.


  • Establishing an educational content network operated by the State: A centralized network offers numerous benefits: secure and stable access, equal educational opportunity for all, and efficient scheduling.
  • A State-operated educational television channel to supplement the centralized network: This supplement channel can be a valuable alternative to the network for students who lack stable access to online learning platforms. Many parents with multiple children and an inadequate number of computers struggle when children need to use computers simultaneously. The centralized network and television channel can solve this problem by scheduling different grade courses at different times.
  • Free access to the centralized network and television channel: This eliminates tutors' financial burden for mothers who are not equipped to teach technical subjects.

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