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27 Apr 2020
Arushi Terway and Marina Avelar

COVID-19 Education Disruption and the Response by the Global Education Community

This NORRAG Highlights is published in the context of the global COVID-19 crisis by NORRAG staff Arushi Terway (Senior Lead Research Associate) and Marina Avelar (NORRAG Research Associate). This dynamic Blog Post will keep being updated, it aims to track the latest developments in the education community and resources published as a response to the pandemic and its effect on education systems worldwide.

More than ever, safeguarding the right to education and the opportunity to learn has become the most salient challenge for global education leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Up until February 2020, the global education community was focused on the provision of the right to education to all children and ensuring that the 263 million children who were out of school before this pandemic could access quality education. Now we need to find solutions to ensure that 1.57 billion children in 162 countries have the opportunity to learn in these uncertain times where no one can predict when schools around the world will re-open.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 is first and foremost a public-health crisis, however it has short and long-term repercussions on social, economic and educational aspects of society. Drastic restrictions on the mobility of people not only across national borders but even outside their residence to maintain social distance has diminished social and economic activity, severely impacting socio-emotional and financial wellbeing.

School closures, in many countries, is an important measure for ensuring social distancing, the most promising non-pharmaceutical intervention for mitigating the current crisis. However, for many children and youth from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds, school closures also mean the absence of critical safety net – education, nutrition, protection, and emotional support. Children who rely on school feeding programs may not be able to get a meal if alternative solutions are not put in place. Some children who reside in unsafe environments may only find physical and emotional safety in classrooms. Extended interruption of learning opportunity can reverse gains in learning results, especially for disadvantaged children (socio-economic, students with special or diverse educational needs or persons with disabilities) who cannot access quality substitutes for a school-based learning environment. For secondary school-age youth, long school closures could increase the risk of dropout.

School systems across the world are attempting to find quick solutions to ensuring that school closures do not result in children missing out on the opportunity to learn and backtrack on the gains they had made in the current and previous academic years. Governments are deploying distance learning solutions online and on TV to grapple with the complexity of providing learning opportunities outside of school walls.

Parents, rich and poor, are struggling to juggle their own jobs, learning how to be a home school teacher and parenting 24/7. Parents took to social media to show their appreciation for the job teachers do as soon as some of the first school closures started. Pre-K teachers to university professors are adapting to facilitate remote learning and maintain a personal connection with their students that they normally support in person in the classroom.

Several global organizations have risen up to the challenge and are providing financial and technical resources to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the education of children and youth. Below is a list of responses and resources from global education organizations to support international and national policy makers, school administrators, teachers and parents in ensuring that children continue their learning process during these school closures. These resources attempt to be adaptive, coherent, and effective in providing an equitable education response during the public-health crisis.

This list will be updated periodically as additional initiatives are announced. We invite NORRAG members to send up more relevant resources that are not already captured within the resources below to help us keep the list up to date. NORRAG’s own activities related to COVID-19 are available at this link.

COVID-19 Data

Global School Closure Data

Provides up-to-date data on school closures and out-of-school children around the world.

Funding Opportunities 

Call for ideas for EdTech Responses to coronavirus (COVID-19)

The EdTech Hub (an 8-year EdTech research initiative of the World Bank, DFID and the Gates Foundation) mEducation Alliance, and Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) have launched a call for proposals to source solutions for the learning crisis faced by the hundreds of millions of students currently out-of-school in less economically developed countries. Selected applicants will be invited to virtual EdTech Pitch Days with a global network of potential funders, support in adapting and scaling in response to COVID-19, and connections for onward collaboration and funding.

Monitoring Funding of Response to COVID-19

Consolidation of data on funding resources available in response to COVID-19.

Education Out Loud

Education Out Loud, the GPE fund supporting civil society’s advocacy for education, just launched a new call for proposals. This blog discusses the role that civil society could play during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis by continuing to keep the governments to account and giving a voice to the most marginalized.

Rapid Response

Global Education Coalition

UNESCO has rallied international organizations, civil society and private sector partners in a broad Coalition to ensure #LearningNeverStops. 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

Partners: International Labour Organization, the UN High Commission for Refugees, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization, the World Bank, 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, Microsoft, GSMA, Weidong, Google, Facebook, Zoom, KPMG, Coursera, Zoom, Moodle, Huawei, Vodafone, Bridge International Academies, Khan Academy, Dubai Cares, Profuturo, Sesame Workshop, Save the Children, Wikimedia Foundation,, Plan International, Education Above All, Worldreader, Global Business Coalition for Education, LabXchange, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, “la Caixa” Foundation, Theirworld, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, Global Campaign for Education, Varkey Foundation, BBC World Service, Global Book Alliance, INEE, Commonwealth of Learning, International Publishers Association, International Federation of Catholic Universities, UNIMED, Education International.

Global Partnership for Education

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) will provide US$250 million to help developing countries mitigate both the immediate and long-term disruptions to education being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will help sustain learning for up to 355 million children, with a focus on ensuring that girls and poor children, who will be hit the hardest by school closures, can continue their education. GPE funding will be available immediately to support coordinated and country-driven responses in up to 67 countries and meet both urgent and longer-term needs. Ministries of Education and local education partners can use the funds to ensure learning can continue, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable, for example by producing educational radio and television programs and distributing equipment such as radios and textbooks to the poorest households. The funds can also be used to support teachers, ensure children with special needs and disabilities are included; collect data to know that learning is happening; mitigate poverty and gender barriers to learning, which will be exacerbated by economic shock; and ensure that teachers and schools are equipped to re-open when it is safe to do so.

Education Cannot Wait

The Education Cannot Wait Global Fund (ECW) allocates a total of US$15 million in an initial series of emergency grants for the rapid delivery of holistic education services to protect and support vulnerable children and youth hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 16 countries/emergency contexts. These girls and boys are already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises. An additional series of grants to support the response in other crisis-affected countries will be released shortly and reach partners in-country in the coming days.

Education International Principles and Recommendations

Education International has created the Information Hub for educators and unions, which offers access to the latest news, guidelines, resources and information about what unions are doing in different countries. EI has also released principles and recommendations that should guide the responses of education unions, governments and partners to COVID-19.

National Government Responses and Plans

UNESCO IIEP’s Planipolis is a portal of national education plans and policies and key education frameworks and monitoring reports. It provides a single entry point to official education resources for national policy makers, donors and partners. It has consolidated national education policy documents on the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Guidance Notes for Education System Administrators

Releasing the potential of teachers in the COVID response in low-income countries

Provides tools and practices from past disease outbreaks and from current examples of the COVID – 19 education response to help teachers continue doing their work during the crisis.

Supporting teachers during school closures and once schools re-open – Resources from the World Bank Teachers Thematic Working Group

This World Bank brief offers ideas on how teachers can best be supported now and when schools re-open to ensure they are able to provide quality learning opportunities for their students. This accompanying blog outlines key actionable guidance for supporting teachers across all phases of the crisis, drawing on examples of policy and practices from a range of countries. 

3 recommendations to support school leaders during the coronavirus pandemic

Provides recommendations on how to support school leaders during the coronavirus pandemic, including clearly defining the role of school leaders in crisis response; enlisting school leaders to lead the process and re-open schools and developing programmes to train and connect school leaders.

Five steps to support education for all in the time of COVID-19 

Based on the research and technical expertise gathered over decades of working with governments, including capacity development support, IIEP experts have put together some recommendations. The five short documents  not only summarize in practical terms what can be done to address some of the challenges confronting countries – as well as teachers, learners, and their families – when it comes to managing such a crisis, but also draw lessons from the situation and provide guidance on planning and preparing for future crises.

4 lessons from evaluations of the education response to Ebola

This blog brings about learning from the education response after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and looks at what some of the evaluations have shown, and highlights 4 findings that can help today’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Girls’ Education and COVID-19: What past shocks can teach us about mitigating the impact of pandemics

The Malala Fund has developed a report using insights from the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic and the 2008 global financial crisis to understand the short- and long-term consequences of COVID-19 for girls.

How to protect vulnerable children, especially girls, during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This blog captures the experience of school closures during the Ebola outbreak and its impact on vulnerable children, especially girls. Based on the experience and evaluation of education system response during the Ebola outbreak, the author extracts out some lessons and guidance on how to ensure safety and learning opportunities are available to vulnerable populations, especially girls.

Putting gender at the forefront of the COVID-19 education response

This common messaging framework by the United National Girls Education Initiative raises attention to the gendered impacts of COVID-19, advocate for strategies to respond to the gendered dimensions of the crisis, and look ahead to the safe reopening of schools through a gendered lens. 

LEARNING MUST GO ON: Recommendations for keeping children safe and learning, during and after the COVID-19 crisis

This advocacy brief outlines the key recommendations on how to ensure learning continues during school closures.

Business engagement in education in emergencies: Lessons for the COVID-19 response

Provides guidance for businesses to get involved in the response for education provision during the COVID-19 crisis. The guidance comes from lessons learned through research on the participation of businesses and their initiatives to support students in times of humanitarian crisis, as well as the roles of corporate actors as educational innovators and policy-makers on education in emergencies.

A framework to guide an education response to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020

OECD has developed a quick guide for the development of an education strategy during the Pandemic. This can be used by national, state or local education authorities or by leaders of education networks. In countries where international development organizations partner with governments to support educational development, they can take on the role of assisting in the development of the education response.

World Bank Guidance Note on Education Systems’ Response to COVID19

This note provides guidance for World Bank teams helping client countries mitigate adverse impacts of COVID19 pandemic through an education-specific response. It also offers recommendations for government responses that minimize or prevent loss of learning while ensuring safety of all students. This note is meant for discussion and subject to change.

World Bank Guidance Note on Remote Learning and COVID-19

The World Bank is actively working with Ministries of Education in several countries to support their efforts in providing remote learning opportunities while schools are closed. This guidance note offers principles to maximize countries’ effectiveness in designing and executing remote learning. The WB will continue to update it as useful practical lessons emerge. Other guidance notes delve into more detail on the effective use of radio, television, and mobile technology for remote learning in low-resource environments.

Remote learning opportunities for children without connectivity

This blog outlines guidance for ensuring that children living in communities without access to computers or internet at home can continue remote learning.

International Education Funders Group Resources for Philanthropies

The International Education Funders Groups has mapped out some of the actors in this ecosystem, including thematic and philanthropic networks, education data and statistics, and several resources that may be useful for grantmaking.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Education Financing

This brief by the World Bank identifies the ways in which the COVID-19 crisis is likely to affect the availability of funding for education. It summarizes evidence on the negative impact that the pandemic is likely to have on education financing and identifies policy responses to mitigate this impact.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Shocks to Education and Policy Responses

This World Bank report argues that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens education progress worldwide through two major shocks: (i) the near-universal closing of schools at all levels and (ii) the economic recession sparked by pandemic-control measures. To mitigate these, it suggests policy responses that can be summarized in three overlapping phases: Coping, Managing Continuity, and Improving and Accelerating Learning.

Promising practices for equitable remote learning: emerging lessons from COVID-19 education responses in 127 countries

Using data on access to technology from household surveys (MICS and DHS) and information on national education responses to school closures gathered from UNICEF education staff in over 120 countries, this brief published by UNICEF explores promising practices for equitable remote learning.

Safe to Learn during COVID-19

The global coalition Safe to Learn has released a set of practical recommendations for governments to help prevent and respond to violence against children in different learning environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendations address several existing challenges, including the fact that many children are not safe to learn at home.

Re-opening schools with COVID-19 response

Guidance to reopening schools and education institutions

Education International has published a “Guidance to reopening schools and education institutions”, stressing five dimensions that should be considered when planning this next phase of response to the COVID-19 crisis.

UNESCO resource paper for preparing the reopening of schools

This UNESCO resource paper on preparing the reopening of schools combines information from current practices with experience and lessons learnt from past crises in an effort to raise awareness about the most critical aspects around school reopening. It offers policy directions to support policy-making and practice, especially regarding timing, conditions and processes for school reopening.

Guidance for policy-makers to support teachers in back to school efforts

This guidance note from the Teachers Task Force offers a set of key principles to ensure that teachers are equipped and supported for the re-opening of schools. The authors highlight the need to support teachers’ mental health and well-being and to help them adapt their teaching repertoire for the new realities of classroom and blended learning.

Five actions to help bring the most marginalized girls back to school after COVID-19 – Robert Jenkins and Rebecca Winthrop, Brookings Center for Universal Education

Previous crises have shown that girls are particularly vulnerable when schools close for long periods, and, as indicated in the above Malala Fund report, up to 10 million more secondary school-age girls could be out of school after this initial wave of the COVID-19 crisis has passed. In this Brookings CUE blog, the authors argue that we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform schools to be gender-responsive and inclusive. They provide five actionable priorities for ‘building back better’, including scaling gender-responsive distance education to reach the most marginalized girls, and intensifying community mobilization and support for girls’ education.

Remote Learning Resources

School, interrupted: 4 options for distance education to continue teaching during COVID-19

This blog examines the four most common distance technologies for contractors, donors and educators who find themselves needing to explore distance-learning options, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

National learning platforms and tools

UNESCO has consolidated information on how various governments are providing learning platforms and tools.

Distance learning solutions

UNESCO has compiled a list of educational applications, platforms and resources to help parents, teachers, schools and school administrators facilitate student learning and provide social care and interaction during periods of school closure. Most of the solutions curated are free and many cater to multiple languages.

Education Above All Home Schooling and Distance Learning Resources

A bank of educational projects that are across subjects, interdisciplinary, engaging and do not require any technology to be implemented. Resources are available for different age groups, language requirements along with guidance and toolkits for teachers engaged in distance learning.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

INEE is taking action to support its members, partners, and communities by ensuring they have the information, capacity, and resources to help governments, schools, teachers, and parents/caregivers mitigate the effects of the crisis and support the continuity of education for children and youth. INEE has compiled resources to support the provision of education in places affected by COVID-19. They can be browsed by thematic collections, and access resources in españolfrançaisportuguêsالعربية.

Remote Learning, Distance Education and Online Learning During the COVID19 Pandemic: A Resource List by the World Bank’s Edtech Team

This selection of resources and platforms is regularly curated and organized by the World Bank’s Edtech team. It has been elaborated in order to facilitate the rapid identification of helpful technological solutions that could be used to support remote learning.

Global Business Coalition for Education’s Rapid Education Action (REACT) Platform

The Global Business Coalition for Education is leveraging the REACT (Rapid Education Action) platform to mobilize corporate resources and expertise to minimize the long-term impacts on the next generation. This page highlights how companies are supporting remote learning and outlines how your business or organization can get involved in the education response to Coronavirus.

Global Book Alliance and Norad’s Free Learning Platform

This platform facilitates access to quality early grade reading resources on a global scale. With over 11,000 resources in 150 languages, it includes materials approved by governments for classroom use, as well as other high quality supplementary reading materials. The search functionality makes it easy to filter the content according to levels, language, topics and keywords. 

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Disclaimer: NORRAG’s blog offers a space for dialogue about issues, research and opinion on education and development. The views and factual claims made in NORRAG posts are the responsibility of their authors and are not necessarily representative of NORRAG’s opinion, policy or activities

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4 Responses

  1. Mike Douse

    Education is commencing a fundamental transformation as it responds to the challenges posed and opportunities created by digitisation. Unlike banking, security, information, entertainment, commerce, libraries and just about everything else, the education sector has attempted to incorporate one-off ICT applications within old-fashioned schools and antique education systems: unsurprisingly, the result has been four decades of expensive disappointment. Dr Philip Uys and I have detailed all of this in our recent book ONE WORLD ONE SCHOOL and other publications and conference publications. Into this underlying transformation comes the coronavirus and all of its shattering consequences. Some responses have been thoughtful and effective while others – seeing schooling as a mixture of child-minding, indoctrination and selection – remain entrapped in 20th century misunderstandings. COVID-19 offers a great opportunity to pave the way towards the Global; School – blended learner-led education that reflects the duality of contemporary consciousness. Until well-meaning analyses and best-intentioned prescriptions take that existential reality on board, they will do not more than perpetuate second millennium solutions in third millennium circumstances.

  2. Pingback : Education and Intl Development Course: COVID 19 resources - techhenzy

  3. Pingback : #07 Reactions to COVID-19 from international cooperation in education: Between continuities and unexpected changes - eduCoop

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