UNESCO showcases education responses to Covid-19 Crisis at UN General Assembly

UNESCO will host a virtual presentation and discussion of the measures, best practices and achievements implemented by its newly created Global Education Coalition in helping countries ensure education continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, 25 September, 10am to 11:30am, New York time (UTC-4).

The event, Education During Covid-19 and Beyond: The Global Education Coalition in Action, held within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly, will be hosted by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, who initiated the Global Education Coalition in March this year to respond to the educational challenge of COVID-19 which, at its worst, kept 1.6 billion learners worldwide out of the classroom.

The event will present the progress report about UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition achievements and discuss lessons learned in responding to requests from more than 70 countries during the pandemic with a view to rethinking the future of education.

In Senegal, for example, the Ministry of Education UNESCO, and Coalition members Microsoft and Huawei, joined forces to support tens of thousands of teachers and students to continue learning. 82,000 teachers and 500,000 learners enrolled on the Ministry’s Distance Learning Platform and a further 1.5 million learners and teachers are expected to sign up with support from Microsoft. UNESCO is supporting training for 200 teachers to be ‘master trainers’ and Huawei has provided devices to improve their connectivity.

In Lebanon, UNESCO is supporting the production of communication and education resources targeting teachers and parents (brochures, videos and guides) and capacity building for the Ministry of Education in the fields of ICT and education benefitting 50 coordinators to date. 280 video lessons are being acquired for the online platform of the Ministry, which will reach 1,000 schools and 200,000 leaners throughout the country.

In Samoa, Vodafone is mobilizing US$7.5 million to offer free access to education data for 60,000 learners and teachers. Orange is providing free internet access to accredited learning platforms in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Similar packages are forthcoming in Botswana, Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Madagascar, an initiative due to be extended to Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

Finally, a Global Skills Academy has also been established to equip 1 million youth with digital skills and help them find jobs during the looming recession with Coalition partners Coursera, Dior, Festo, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Orange Digital Centres and PIX, alongside WorldSkills International and intergovernmental organizations ILO, ITU and OECD. The Academy operates in synergy with UNESCO’s global network of institutions of technical and vocational education and training, UNEVOC.

UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay will open the event which will feature addresses by Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia and Chair of UNESCO’s Futures of Education Commission, and a message from Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa.

A Q&A session will follow with Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary, Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO, Mamadou Talla, Minister of Education of Senegal, Martín Benavides Abanto, Minister of Education of Peru, Magdalena Brier López-Guerrero, Director General ProFuturo-Telefónica, and Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Education, Microsoft Corporation.

Finally, there will be a moderated discussion with beneficiaries of programmes established with the support of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition.

The Global Education Coalition is a platform for collaboration and exchange to protect the right to education during this unprecedented disruption and beyond. It brings together more than 150 members from the UN family, civil society, academia and the private sector to ensure that #LearningNeverStops. The Coalition’s programmes have targeted 400 million learners and 12.7 million teachers directly and indirectly.

UNESCO’s event builds on the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief concerning the impact of COVID-19 on education.

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