COVID-19 Response in Education
Global framework for reopening schools
Tip of the week
A bank of Project Based Learning (PLB) Resources to support learning at home. They are designed for no internet and low resource homes. The projects are developed for children aged from 4 – 14 years. The PBL resources provided weeklong activities that are interdisciplinary covering several subjects including language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. These are aligned to standard curricular learning outcomes for each age group across countries. These projects are available in Arabic and will be available in French soon.
Zooming into a country
As is in many parts of the world, all schools in the MENA region are closed. This affects almost 100 million children between 5 and 17. In some countries, the closure of schools coincides with holidays, in others, this is not the case. For now, it is not clear whether schools will open in two weeks or two months.
The longer the time children are not in school, the bigger the risk that they lose their interest in learning, forget what they learned before and may not go back, when schools re-open.
Most ministries have responded rapidly and made curriculum available on-line or are broadcasting through TV or radio. In many countries, priority is given to accessing materials for exam classes.
It may not always be easy to understand the subjects offered without clear explanations by teachers. There are a lot of resources available that provide additional explanation and information. These resources can also be used, in case materials linked to the national curriculum are not (yet) available.
During the COVID-19 crisis, UNICEF MENARO promotes:
Safe learning at home:
Being at home, together as a family, is a unique opportunity we need to treasure. However, it is not always easy. In general, violence at home in the MENA region is high and may escalate during times of confinement.
While it is important to keep up with schoolwork, this may not always be possible. But there are other ways for children to remain engaged in learning beyond schooling.
This time at home provides an opportunity for children to develop other skills, skills that prepare children for life: Life Skills. Being confined at home will build our capacity to live together, to respect each other’s personal space, while at the same time ensuring enough space for oneself and learn to cope with this new situation. It provides opportunities to explore our creativity and enhance our capacity for self-learning.
Reading may be the single most effective strategy for children to remain engaged with learning. It is particularly important for younger children, who just started to read at school to ensure they don’t lose their freshly acquired reading skills.
UNICEF in the MENA region supports learning in a safe home by:
- Helping ministries make national curriculum and complementary materials available to all
- Promoting to develop life and foundational skills at home through reading
Schools prepared to re-open:
Once the current pandemic is under control, schools will reopen. It is important that schools will then be healthy places that protect children from exposure to new health hazards. This will require investment in WASH facilities, basic hygiene materials as well as hygiene education.
Schools also need to be prepared to address learning gaps children may have, depending on the time schools have been closed. For that, it is important to assess where children are in their learning and build in opportunities to catch up.
In addition, schools and systems need to be prepared for recurrent events of this nature. This includes preparing teachers for home-based teaching and student support.
UNICEF in the MENA region promotes and supports ministries with:
- WASH in school (including distribution of hygiene kits)
- Assessment of children’s learning and catch-up programmes and remedial teaching
- Preparedness plans for future events
- Guidance for COVID-19 prevention and control in schools
- WASH and Infection Prevention and Control Measures in Schools
Reaching the most vulnerable children:
While a lot of efforts are made to ensure children remain engaged in learning, using modern technologies, this may not be enough to reach all. In most countries, (free) reliable on-line access is not universal. The COVID-19 crisis affects the learning of vulnerable children the most, including children with disabilities.
UNICEF in the MENA region supports:
- The scaling up of initiatives that reach out to the most vulnerable and will develop new initiatives that are based on low cost technologies that have the potential to reach children currently not reached.
- The continuation of social protection programmes, aimed at children, such as school feeding and (conditional) cash transfer are equally important under current circumstance to protect the most vulnerable.
External References on COVID-19 Response and Resources: