The COVID-19 pandemic hit the education sector with full force, disrupting schools globally and threatening to strip off decades of progress made towards learning. A year into the crisis, the situation remains bleak: Half of the world’s student population is still affected by full or partial school closures; nearly one-third cannot access remote learning; more than 11 million girls may never return to the classroom; and over 100 million children will fall below the minimum proficiency level in reading due to the impact of school closures. Unless urgent action is taken today, over 24 million children and youth are at risk of dropping out of school.
As the pandemic revealed and amplified inequalities in education, UNESCO quickly mobilized support to ensure the continuity of learning around the world by establishing the Global Education Coalition in March 2020. This multi-sector Coalition brings together 175 institutional partners from the UN family, civil society, academia and the private sector currently working in 112 countries around three central themes: Connectivity, gender and teachers. A new report, published ahead of a high-level ministerial meeting, is showcasing the innovative responses that have been achieved through this unique partnership in the past year.
How is the Global Education Coalition operating and what are its achievements?
The Global Education Coalition has become an essential platform to support Member States to respond to the unprecedented challenges facing the education sector. Coalition contributions do not replace national responses, but rather engage new actors that would not have been obvious partners, such as technology and media organizations, to complement and support national efforts to ensure the continuity of learning.
Coalition members are currently engaged in 233 projects across 112 countries. At least 400 million learners and 12 million teachers are benefitting directly or indirectly from the actions of the Coalition. Here are a few global, regional and country-specific examples of actions that have been achieved so far.
- In West Africa, the Francophone African regional online learning platform Imaginécole was launched as a key component of a Global Partnership for Education project to improve the quality of distance education in 10 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo. The platform offers a large-scale experience in distance education for 6.6 million students and 200,000 teachers with over 600 educational resources.
- More than 5 million girls in the 20 countries with the greatest gender disparities in education will be supported to fulfil their right to education, with a focus on bringing back to school the most marginalized girls through wide range of actions. This includes information and awareness raising, skills acquisition and providing evidence-based recommendations to decision-makers.
- The Global Skills Academy, established to help equip 1 million youth with digital skills to adapt to changes in the workplace, reaching to date 142,000 beneficiaries. Since its launch, the Academy has mobilized more than 150 TVET institutions across 56 countries and is actively working with 15 partners to enroll 75,000 additional students and teachers in the coming days.
- In response to the explosion that rocked Beirut, Lebanon in August 2020, Coalition members mobilized financial commitments, technical assistance and capacity building support to rehabilitate damaged schools, provide technical assistance to teachers, ensure access to distance learning with content and support higher education. UNESCO and partners are supporting the rehabilitation of 55 public schools, 20 public Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions, and 3 universities.
- In South Africa, a phone app-based support service for teachers developed with a partner was launched to provide a real-time chat-based learning and mentorship platform, along with a wellness and safety feature. It currently has over 67,200 users and plans to reach 400,000 more teachers in the upcoming months.
- UNESCO is supporting an open source platform for home-based distance learning and a regional repository of curriculum aligned resources for learners and teachers in Kiribati, Marshall Islands (Republic of), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.
- With GIZ’s support, UNESCO is launching a teachers’ training programme for 20 Caribbean countries and a digital and social emotional skills training for migrants and refugees in Peru.
Access the first progress report from September 2020.
UNESCO is convening a high-level ministerial event on 29 March to take stock of lessons learnt, the greatest risks facing education today and strategies to leave no learner behind. It will show how the Global Education Coalition has mobilized partners to support learners, teachers and policy-makers with new tools and knowledge.