UNICEF scales up support to keep children learning, as COVID-19 forces schools to close
DHAKA/NEW YORK, 27 March 2020 – As large-scale school closures make face-to-face education in classrooms unavailable for more than 80 per cent of students worldwide, UNICEF will significantly scale up support in all countries to help children continue their learning while keeping them safe.
“Like in many parts of the world, schools in Bangladesh had to be closed to minimize the risk of infection for children and school employees in this unprecedented situation. We need to think hard and collectively act now to continue different types of learning in the home environment to reduce the negative impact of the current situation on children and society as a whole”, said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Country Representative in Bangladesh.
“Based on lessons learned from other emergencies, the longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return. Giving children alternative ways to learn must be a critical part of our response to COVID-19 in Bangladesh,” said Hozumi.
In Bangladesh, UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and the Ministry of Education to help children’s learning continue while they are at home during school closure due to COVID-19.
UNICEF will work with the Government to help implement effective distance or remote learning programmes using TV, radio, mobile phone and Internet platforms to reach the maximum number of students. The initiative will make the learning interactive, will engage parents and learners, monitor engagement and will ensure assessment of learning.
UNICEF has started to work with a2i (Access to Information) under the ICT Division of the Government to help develop and implement the first component of the education continuity plan. This will help ensure access to learning through televised recorded classes for children in both primary and secondary levels, using Parliament Television.
A key component of the partnership will be to provide information to parents and caregivers on how to support and engage with their children’s learning.
Given the risks involved when schools are closed, UNICEF and partners will also work with the Government to ensure that schools are ready to receive children when they re-open and that children return to school.
In all 145 countries, UNICEF will work with partners to:
- Support governments’ crisis response plans including technical assistance, rapid risk analysis, data collection, and planning for the reopening of schools.
- Support the planning and implementation of safe school operation and risk communication including translating, printing, disseminating and implementing safe school guidelines; equipping schools with hygiene packages and circulating critical information on disease prevention; and training teachers and caregivers in psychosocial and mental health support for themselves and students.
- Ensure continuity of learning and access to remote learning programs including designing and preparing alternative education programmes through online, radio and television.
- Enhance knowledge sharing and capacity building for the current response and future pandemics.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.bd