COVID-19 is on course to disrupt a third consecutive school year. The prospect of continued school closures has heightened concerns about learning loss, especially for the world’s most vulnerable, hardest to reach girls. How can governments and education practitioners enhance remote learning when and where schools are closed?
We looked at emerging evidence, including from a portfolio of research in response to COVID-19 funded by Echidna Giving, a private funder supporting the best ways to educate girls in lower-income countries. We came to three conclusions:
- Design strategies to identify and reach students who are least able to engage remotely.
- Prioritize low-tech or no-tech remote learning solutions.
- Emphasize personalized outreach and face-to-face interaction, especially for the hardest-to-reach.
Here’s a look at why:
Remote learning is a challenge for girls and boys alike.
Students spend much less time learning remotely than when schools are open—about 5.7 fewer hours in western and central Africa. Low access to technology partially explains this. A survey of over 1,000 adolescent girls and boys in Wajir, Kenya, found that only 20% of adolescents own a mobile phone. In Uganda, 35% of households do not own a radio.
Families also may not be aware of remote learning opportunities and/or may not have time to support children to access these opportunities.
In Pakistan, while 60% of households surveyed owned a television, only one-third of children in these families actually watched government-provided “teleschool.” In western and central Africa, 42.9% of households surveyed had access to the internet, but less than a quarter of children in these households used the internet for remote learning.
Where remote learning is happening, initial concerns that it would be a lot more challenging for girls than boys have been partially allayed.
A study in Pakistan suggests that girls are engaging in more hours of remote learning than boys (around 0.3 hours more, on average). And more parents in Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone reported reading to their daughters (40%) and talking to them about school (63%) during school closures than with their sons (28% and 53%, respectively).
The effects that closure of schools have on the students especially the girls: since the Covid-19, many of the girls in Liberia are pregnant and some of them have given birth. If a strategies are not designed, every affect that GPE made to educate girls in Liberia may go back to square one. I believe that the parents of these children should be part of these strategies, if they are orphans, the counselors or guardians should be part of these strategies. Students in Liberia don't like to read, especially when they are not in school. Online studies is impossible because only 40 percent of the Liberian students own phones, and about 25 percent of of the 40 percrnt own bottom phones. Distance learning Will be little bit difficult for the Liberian students especially the less fortunate ones.
In reply to The effects that closure of… by Dr. Stephen Railey
Thanks for your comment, Dr. Railey! You raise a really great point about the need to include parents in girls' education strategies--something which we will touch upon in another upcoming blog looking at what COVID has taught us about the role of parents. We also have another upcoming blog looking at the impact of COVID on pregnancy, which as some of the studies we cite, is a driving factor (alongside and compounded by economic barriers) of girls' drop out during COVID. Here is a link to one of the studies that we have found extremely insightful: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c86d4507fdcb8fc46e7d529/t/60d4f…
The situation of teenage pregnancy is also very high in Uganda as a result of the school closures. This posses a threat that many of these girls may not be in position to return back to school once they are re-opened. It therefore calls for lots of stakeholders to sensitize the community members and in some instances influence policies so that the school environment is made welcoming for these child mothers once they get back to school. They need to be supported to complete the school cycle. Thanks for such a great report @Echidna Giving.
Leave a comment
Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.