Around the world now, there are approximately 1.5 billion learners out-of-school as a result of COVID-19. We are witnessing and experiencing the impacts of school closures on children, who have had disrupted learning and are unable to have the quality face-to-face support and attention from their teachers, on parents who have to juggle their day jobs with homeschooling children and on teachers who have had to re-adapt to remote ways of teaching.
In the face of any crisis, there is some level of urgency and choice that can be made which determines how we experience that crisis, how we can learn from it and how we grow from it. In the face of COVID-19, schools, communities, governments and organisations from various sectors are responding together and showing us how resilience can be built in a highly challenging time.
We are seeing examples of innovation in Rwanda and Korea, where local Ministries of Education are developing online e-platforms through to TV and radio broadcasting channels, to support the ongoing delivery of the national curriculum in schools.
We have also seen organisations come together stronger at this time, calling to action global coalitions and interagency networks to quickly develop and share learning resources. The work that the World Food Programme is developing with governments and schools is so crucial at this time and can only be done in collaboration with one another to ensure that children who are no longer attending schools can still have access to their free school meals.
Like many other organisations, the Breteau Foundation has also had to respond quickly to an unprecedented event and think on our feet to fill in this current learning gap. We have developed an e-school with online workshops, resources and daily broadcasts for teachers so we can continue to support them, home schooling support with literacy and numeracy through our progress tracking applications as well as off-line resources to ensure children can continue to learn without access to technology.
Further to this, to support our children and families in settlements in Lebanon, where access to basic sanitation needs are critical, we have provided hygiene packs consisting of soap, sanitizers and hand wipes.
With every challenge we face, comes learning and preparedness to respond again in the future. After the Ebola crisis in 2014, a threefold response for education, focusing on emergency provision, safe reopening of schools, and sustaining healthy communities was put together by the Global Business Education Coalition. Already, China and Japan are examples of this response – they have acted swiftly with their lockdowns, shifted education onto e-learning channels, and are now coming out the other end, reopening schools. After each crisis we are exposed to, it can only get easier and better.
Despite the depth of challenges that education is facing right now, there are so many examples of individuals and organisations building resilience through innovation and collaboration. These actions can only strengthen learning models for children globally and set us up to respond with greater confidence and preparedness in the future.