This is the 4th blog post in 2020 as part of the collaborative effort between the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This blog series was first launched in 2017.
Since its emergence in late 2019, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has evolved into a pandemic, heavily affecting the lives of billions of people across the world with an anticipated huge impact on the global economy, national budgets particularly in Africa.
Education is one of the sectors heavily affected, with the closure of learning institutions in many African countries likely to negatively affect education in terms of access, quality and investments.
To this end, as celebrating World Book and Copyright Day is a tradition that UNESCO has held since 1995. For Africa this special day serves as an apt reminder of the importance of reading as well as the need to establish distance/digital learning systems across the continent. This entails the creation, production, distribution, dissemination and use of home-grown literature.
The COVID-19 pandemic and effects on education
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on the world and while the African continent accounts for just over 23,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths from the disease, the numbers are increasing and unfortunately this has also had serious impacts on learning.
According to UNESCO, 1.5 billion learners worldwide (91% of the world’s student population) are unable to go to school or university, due to measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the pandemic, but thanks to advocacy and communication campaigns, there are a number of countries in Africa and worldwide as well as organizations and coalitions of education partners (e.g. The Global Education Coalition) actively working towards ensuring learners can continue to receive education and reading opportunities.
Africa’s education response to the pandemic: Some concrete examples
In the last few weeks, African governments and key education stakeholders have instituted some measures to promote the continuity of education from home. These have been successful in some ways, but challenges remain.
In order to obtain a clearer view of the status of learning during this period, and to better support countries in the immediate, short and long term, ADEA engaged some of the most affected African countries in March 2020 to map out their respective situation in terms of strategies, practices and challenges. The overall goal is to facilitate peer learning and knowledge exchange between countries.
Among the various country feedback, here are a few good examples of learning opportunity on the ground: