An initial US$60 million for five new grants has been provided by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to support the education of up to 30.5 million children in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zambia affected by coronavirus-related school closures, as well as US$7.5 million to ensure countries can benefit from learning and best practices.
Schools remain closed for more than 786 million children in developing countries, which were already facing a deep learning crisis before the pandemic struck. School closures will exacerbate existing inequalities, with girls and disadvantaged children likely to experience greater losses of learning. The economic impacts of the pandemic also pose a huge risk that millions of the most vulnerable children will not be able to resume their education when schools re-open.
GPE Chief Executive Officer, Alice Albright said, “Even short disruptions in learning can have a devastating impact, especially for girls and the most marginalized. GPE’s COVID-19 education grants will help our partner countries ensure that all girls and boys can keep learning through distance education options that reach everyone, and support teachers and schools so that the most vulnerable children are not left behind.”
The first grant, for Rwanda, was approved less than a month after GPE announced US$250 million to help countries respond to the immediate and long-term impacts of school closures caused by the pandemic.
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The five grants will boost governments’ efforts to ensure that children can continue learning while schools are closed; support teachers and parents to provide quality learning at home and meet children’s psychosocial needs; and prepare schools for safe re-opening. GPE funds will ensure that remote learning reaches the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including girls, children with special needs and disabilities, and children without access to electricity or internet connectivity.
Ghana will receive US$15 million to support continued learning, recovery and resilience in education. The grant will fund remote learning through radio and TV, online and offline helpdesks to support teachers and students, and an online platform to make educational resources widely available. Pre-loaded content devices will be provided for students with special needs, girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, and children from rural areas and low-income families.
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In Malawi, the US$10 million grant will support the government’s efforts to ensure distance learning initiatives are accessible to students. GPE funds will be used to purchase solar powered radios and tablets to support innovative digital learning solutions for vulnerable children with limited access to electricity. Once schools reopen, the grant will help prepare teachers and provide remedial support to students through assessments, accelerated learning and second chance opportunities. UNICEF is the grant agent in Malawi.
In Mozambique, GPE’s grant of US$15 million will help the Ministry of Education set up a crisis management team, provide distance learning programs through radio, television and online education programs and ensure psychosocial support to children experiencing stress, anxiety and trauma caused by school closures.
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In Rwanda, the US$10 million grant will support radio, television and online learning, as well as a public campaign to prevent gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy. The grant will also support schools to re-open by equipping them with handwashing facilities, providing meals for at-risk children, and training teachers on school safety.
In Zambia, the US$10 million grant will be used to develop radio learning programs for students and provide radios to disadvantaged children. While schools remain closed, the grant will build the capacity of teachers to deliver remote learning support, monitor the continuity of learning and provide psychosocial support to students.
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To ensure that countries benefit from shared learning and best practices, particularly on ensuring learning for girls and for children with special needs and disabilities, GPE has also approved an initial grant of US$7.5 million for the development, dissemination and delivery of global and regional learning approaches. This initiative will be jointly implemented by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank in support of government response plans.