Global Partnership for Education announces US $8.8 million in funding to help UNICEF with COVID-19 response

25 March 2020
On 16 March 2020, near the Syrian town of Atme, close to the border with Turkey in Idlib province, a Syrian medical volunteer affiliated with a Turkish-registered Syrian relief organization sterilizes the inside of a make-shift classroom at a camp for displaced Syrians, as part of measures of COVID-19 coronavirus disease prevention.
UNICEF is working to equip and support health workers and other essential services to protect themselves and any environments where children and families may be at risk.

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON D.C., 25 March 2020 – The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) announced today a US $8.8 million contribution to UNICEF to help children and young people in 87 developing countries access learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationwide school closures in 156 countries have already disrupted learning and access to vital services for more than eight out of ten children and young people.

“There is an urgent need to invest now in education systems to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in developing countries. These funds are an initial step to kick-start governments’ efforts to keep students safe and ensure they can keep learning, including by supporting teachers and schools,” said Alice Albright, GPE’s Chief Executive Officer.

To ensure resources are quickly available to the countries that need them most, GPE has partnered with UNICEF to implement the grant. The funds will help governments and local education partners reduce the impact of COVID-19 on children’s education by ensuring the continuity of learning and supporting safe practices in schools.

These funds will support children’s many needs at this challenging time. From preparing alternative learning programs, to providing vital information on handwashing and other measures to keep them safe, to counselling to support their mental health, to programming to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus, this generous contribution will go a long way towards helping children and young people continue their education.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended children’s lives in unprecedented ways,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Hundreds of millions of children will have to spend weeks and months away from their classrooms. We know from experience that the longer vulnerable children stay away from school, the less likely they are to return. It is critical to give them alternative ways to learn and rebuild a routine. If we act now, we can take the necessary steps to safeguard their future while protecting their present.”

Governments in 87 eligible countries will start receiving education funds from 30 March to support education systems’ response to COVID-19. The funds will help scale up response planning, communication around safe school operations and sharing knowledge and building capacity.

The funds represent a first step in GPE’s mobilization to provide financial support to its partner countries to cope with impacts that disruptions to education will have on children. UNICEF will also provide US $4 million of resources to reach an additional 58 countries.


Notes to editors

Earlier this month, UNICEF, along with the World Health Organization and  the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, released operational guidance on protecting children and schools from COVID-19.


About the Global Partnership for Education

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) supports developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility or conflict. GPE mobilizes financing for education and supports developing countries to build effective education systems founded on evidence-based planning and policies.

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Media contacts

Georgina Diallo
UNICEF Europe and Central Asia
Tel: +1 917 238 1559

Additional resources

"I wash my hands so germs don't get on them," says Dareen, 6 years.
Children in Al Khader primary school, Jordan take part in a handwashing demonstration. Handwashing is the cheapest and most effective way to curb the spread, however millions lack basic access to water and sanitation.


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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