Parental perception of distance learning and homeschooling during COVID-19 pandemic: an empirical analysis in Sri Lanka
Many countries around the world were compelled to adhere to rigorous practices of school closures due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). During the lockdown period, distance teaching and learning have become the only form to keep students on track. Reports have revealed that during this period, parents and students have strived hard to cope up with the learning method, which is new to the school education system in Sri Lanka. Against this background, this study explored the perceptions of parents in distance learning and homeschooling of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka. In addition, this study also attempted to assess the success of such educational practices in the country during the pandemic.Design/methodology/approachA quantitative research approach was used, and data were collected using a structured questionnaire. The questionnaires were distributed via Google Forms to a sample of 587 respondents through snowball sampling across Sri Lanka.FindingsAccording to the collected data, about 52% of participants positively responded to the current distance learning practices adopted in school education. Meanwhile, about 57% of parents were negatively concerned about current practices. The respondents had negative concerns about the new role of teaching at home, difficulties in balancing work-from-home activities, too many distractions and unfamiliarity with the teaching methods and the subjects. Further with regard to depression, the majority of respondents have moderate depression which could be led to not favouring or being active in teaching. Accounting overall fact, the success of distance learning and homeschooling was higher with parents who have a good educational and socioeconomic background. The impact of these education systems appears to be long-lasting and may contribute to rising disparities.Research limitations/implicationsThis study will help to pay close attention to the constraints and implications of distance learning activities, along with homeschooling and its adaptation in the future as a matter of urgency.Originality/valueSeveral studies described obstacles encountered by students and academics in the higher education sector. However, this study helps to understand the existing difficulties experienced by parents/guardians with homeschooling and the introduction of distance education via the virtual platform in the primary and secondary education system in Sri Lanka. The findings highlighted the importance of developing sufficient information technology infrastructure facilities throughout the nation before hosting such virtual teaching and learning across Sri Lanka.