Learning from afar

Written by Juan Palenzuela, Associate

Edited by Harriet Moll, Creative Director

Good morning,

As lockdown measures continue, few industries have been left undamaged. Many of them, such as travel and the automotive industry, will be reshaped. But the pandemic has also boosted the prospects of one particular sector for the better: online education. That’s a boon for the software giants such as Tencent and Google and for startups such as Learnly and BibliU.  

Globally, more than 1.2 billion students have been forced out of classrooms and lecture theatres. That represents nearly 90% of the global student population according to Unesco. At the outset of the pandemic, policymakers scrambled to find alternatives and diminish the impact that the temporary transition would have on students. Many learning platforms filled the gap with surprising effectiveness. In Wuhan, attendance was high with 81% of K-12 students present via Tencent Classroom

But the unplanned experiment is starting to yield actual benefits, as the pandemic has forced educators and students to test online learning platforms. Some professors are finding that online tools have in fact improved communications with students. It is easy to see some of those tools sticking around after the pandemic fades.

Research has suggested that “blended” online and face-to-face learning could vastly improve educational outcomes, while the cost of getting more students onboard is low.

A new hybrid model of education could emerge, especially in the areas most affected by Covid-19, including the UK. Rather than going back to the pre-Covid set-up, educators are realising that traditional and online learning can go hand by hand.

It’s nothing new of course, in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, for example, that integration has been underway since November 2017 with the Council putting Chromebooks in the hands of every child aged 11 to 18. 

Governments now need to move quickly so that the gap between the full curriculum online education already being offered by much of the more agile private sector doesn’t leave the majority of the country’s children at a huge educational disadvantage. 


The British prime minister said yesterday that he will announce a “comprehensive” lockdown exit strategy next week. Although the UK has safely passed the peak of infections, he also warned that authorities will be especially observant to avoid a second outbreak. Other countries around the world, including the Philippines and Australia, also announced exit strategy updates yesterday.  

German authorities banned Hezbollah in the country yesterday. The German police also raided four mosques and community centres that allegedly had a connection with the group. Although Hezbollah’s militant and propaganda arms had already been banned in the country, political and financial activities were still allowed in the hopes that differentiating the group’s militant and political arms would facilitate dialogue. 

The American president, Donald Trump, suggested in a press briefing yesterday that he has seen evidence that shows that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan laboratory and was allowed to spread on purpose. It contradicts remarks by the US national intelligence director's office, who said that the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified”. 

Business and economy

C&C, the drinks group behind Magners and Tennent’s, scrapped its dividend and cut salaries for workers and management yesterday as part of an effort to reduce costs. Exxon Mobile, meanwhile, announced that it would freeze its dividend for the first time in 13 years as low oil prices continue to put pressure on the firm. 

A new survey by Square Meal, a restaurant guide, found that over 75% of British restaurant and bars do not expect their businesses to survive with social distancing measures in place. Some of the respondents have said that they will have to make staff redundant unless the government’s furlough scheme is extended. The findings will be presented to a parliamentary advisory committee today. 

Boeing announced that it completed a $25bn bond offering yesterday. The funds will be used to weather the increased costs from the pandemic, which the company expects to rise up to $20bn this year. The offering will add to the almost $39bn in debt that the company carried at the end of last month.

Columns of note

Writing on Project Syndicate, Jean Pisani-Ferry argues that the Covid-19 and the climate crisis highlight the limits of humanity’s power over nature. Overcoming it will not be easy. 

In the Financial Times, Tim Harford says that just like the pandemic has forced us to make sacrifices, reducing emissions and saving the planet will need similar sacrifices to our livelihoods

Source: The New Yorker


What happened yesterday?

Equity markets around the globe tumbled as negative data on GDP, industrial output and joblessness claims continued to emerge. 

In America, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.17%% at 24,345.72, while the S&P 500 was 0.92% weaker at 2,912.43 at the end of the trading day. 

In the UK, meanwhile, the FTSE 100 ended the session down 3.5% at 5,901.21, and the FTSE 250 was 2.26% weaker at 16,454.46. 

In Europe, the German Dax finished 1.69% lower to 10,923.54, alongside a 1.73% drop on the Cac-40 to 4,590.93, while the FTSE Mibtel was down 2.1% at 17,688.40.

In company announcements, Shell told its investors yesterday that it is cutting its dividend for the first time in 80 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic 

Amazon, meanwhile, said yesterday that despite revenues increasing 26% in the first three months of the year, it expects to use most of the resulting operating profit to cover Covid-related costs

What's happening today?


Gulf Marine


Cap & Count

Cvc Credit Gbp

Independent O&G

Kingspan Grp.

Man Group


UK economic announcements

(09:30) PMI Manufacturing 

(09:30) Consumer Credit

(09:30) Mortgage Approvals

(09:30) M4 Money Supply

Int. economic announcements

(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)

(15:00) ISM Manufacturing (US)

(15:00) Construction Spending (US)

(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US) 

(20:30) Auto Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

Genghis Khan is the forefather of 8% of the male population in Central Asia, or 16 million people.

Parliamentary highlights

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House of Lords

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Scottish Parliament

Members' Virtual Question Time

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