The Global Education Coalition includes Plan International, UNGEI, UNICEF, UNESCO, Malala Fund, GPE, and other organizations.
The Building Back Equal: Girls Back to School Guide was developed jointly by Plan International, UNESCO, UNGEI, UNICEF and Malala Fund in response to the largest global disruption to education in history linked to COVID-19. It is part of a broader advocacy campaign of the Global Education Coalition to ensure that #LearningNeverStops, complementing existing guidance such as the UN Framework for Reopening Schools and the Safe Back to School Practitioners Guide by the Global Education Cluster.
The guide provides targeted actions for policymakers and practitioners in ministries of Education and other decision makers to build back equal through gender-responsive education systems and ensuring girls’ continuity of learning.
What is building back equal?
Building back equal means putting gender equality at the heart of education - from teaching and learning environments, teacher training and practice, education curricula and materials, to leadership and administration and the active engagement of communities and civil society.
This requires looking at the crisis as an opportunity to establish a new normal for girls, where we tackle barriers to girls’ education, prioritize resilience and transform education to be a force to accelerate sustainable gender equality and full inclusion.
Why is guidance on girls’ return to school needed?
Before the crisis, 130 million girls were already out of school (UNESCO). At the peak of the pandemic, COVID-19 interrupted the education of over 1.5 billion learners, including over 767 million girls and young women, as over 190 countries faced nationwide school closures (UNESCO).
The disruption to education has placed girls at higher risk of falling behind in school and permanently dropping out due to exclusion from distance learning opportunities. In addition to learning losses, UNESCO has estimated that globally over 11 million girls and young women may not return to school in 2020 due to the pandemic’s economic impact alone. This will have devastating impacts on girls’ futures and far reaching consequences for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to poverty reduction, health and well-being and gender equality. Serious and specific attention is needed to ensure girls’ continuity of learning and return to school and protect gains in education made in recent decades.