Photo: Outdoor Classroom
COVID19 has disrupted 87% of the student population across the world. As schools and universities shut their doors, UNESCO launches a new initiative, the Global Education Coalition, to ensure that learning never stops. Hashtag: #LearningNeverStops
Introducing the Global Education Coalition
UNESCO: At a time of when 87% of the world’s student population is affected by COVID-19 school closures, UNESCO is launching a global education coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk.
As of March 2020, more than 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries are affected by COVID-19 school closures.
“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Partnership is the only way forward. This Coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity.”
Since closing schools to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have been deploying distance learning solutions and grappling with the complexity of provisioning education remotely, from delivering content and supporting teachers to providing guidance to families and addressing connectivity challenges. Equity is the paramount concern because closures disproportionately hurt vulnerable and disadvantaged students who rely on schools for a range of social services, including health and nutrition.
Multilateral partners, including the International Labor Organization, the UN High Commission for Refugees, The United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme and the International Telecommunication Union, as well as the Global Partnership for Education, Education Cannot Wait, the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Asian Development Bank have joined the Coalition, stressing the need for swift and coordinated support to countries in order to mitigate the adverse impacts of school closures, in particular for the most disadvantaged.
The private sector, including, Microsoft, GSMA, Weidong, Google, Facebook, Zoom, KPMG and Coursera have also joined the Coalition, contributing resources and their expertise around technology, notably connectivity, and capacity strengthening. Companies using learner and educational data have committed to uphold ethical standards.
Philanthropic and non-profit organizations, including Khan Academy, Dubai Cares, Profuturo and Sesame Street are also part of the Coalition, mobilizing their resources and services to support schools, teachers, parents and learners during this time of unparalleled educational disruption.
Media outlets are also invited to join the Coalition, as has done the BBC World Service as part of its commitment to supporting young people in lockdown across the globe. The BBC will be producing advice, stories, and media education materials to help isolated young people understand how the Coronavirus may affect them.
With its emphasis on equity and gender equality, the Global Education Coalition will respond to countries’ specific needs, as envisaged during the meetings of Education Ministers convened by UNESCO. It will endeavor to match needs with free and secure solutions, bringing partners together to address connectivity and content challenges among others. It will provide digital tools and learning management solutions to upload national digitized educational resources, and curate resources for distance learning and strengthen technical expertise using a with a mix of technology and community approaches, depending on local contexts. In all interventions, special attention will be placed on ensuring data security and protecting the privacy of learners and teachers.
Specifically, the Coalition aims to:
- Help countries in mobilizing resources and implementing innovative and context-appropriate solutions to provide education remotely, leveraging hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches
- Seek equitable solutions and universal access
- Ensure coordinated responses and avoid overlapping efforts
- Facilitate the return of students to school when they reopen to avoid an upsurge in dropout rates
- What are the best ways to connect and support this initiative?
— Inger Andersen (@andersen_inger) March 27, 2020
“We must all work together to rally behind the most vulnerable children and ensure our collective support reaches the most in need as effectively as possible,” says @AliceAlbright on @UNESCO ‘s Global Education Coalition for #COVID19 Responsehttps://t.co/uOWB2y3RrH
— Global Partnership for Education (@GPforEducation) March 27, 2020
There is an urgent need to invest now in education systems to mitigate the impact of #COVID19 on children in developing countries. @GPforEducation and @UNICEF have joined forces to kick-start governments’ efforts to keep children safe and learning. https://t.co/jXMgO3Wpn4
— Alice Albright (@AliceAlbright) March 26, 2020