Eastern Caribbean: Engaging students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Read how the OECS Commission, with support from GPE, sprang into action to implement its COVID-19 response strategy for the education sector in Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Saint Lucian students saying thank you to GPE in song. Credit: OECS Commission
Saint Lucian students saying thank you to GPE in song.
Credit: OECS Commission

The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure of schools and a transition to distributed learning.

The OECS Commission, with support from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), sprang into action to implement its COVID-19 Response Strategy for the Education Sector in Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

This strategy, implemented with support from a US$3 million grant, focuses on four core areas: harmonization of policy response among member states, transition to distributed learning, ensuring the well-being of students both in and out of school, and promoting engagement.

OECS Commission
One of the many key messages sent out via social medias during the COVID-19 pandemic to target parents, guardians and students.
OECS Commission

The importance of communicating and promoting learning engagement during the pandemic cannot be overemphasized and, as such, a campaign dubbed “EmpoWEr” was designed and implemented to:

  • Support the dissemination of key messages across multiple platforms through slide decks and videos;
  • Promote and amplify good hygiene practices and social distancing;
  • Provide guidance to parents to help better support children who may experience anxiety due to the pandemic; and
  • Produce programs to engage the youth.

Digital media was utilized to optimize reach of beneficiaries.

More importantly, however, was the effect of these messages (whether directly or through their parents/caregivers) on students. These messages, targeting parents/caregivers, students, teachers and educators, promote physical and mental exercises, educational games, moderate use of devices while at home, gardening, cooking, entrepreneurship and reading.

Perhaps the campaign’s most powerful output was the music video sung and narrated by youth targeting youth. This very upbeat, feel-good song, while acknowledging the uncertainty and fear of the times, proposes a need to transform learning and that youth can be the agents of this transformation.

Another noteworthy output was the production of the “Yes I News” program. Over the program’s 8 episodes, youth present 24 news reports on issues affecting them.

Some other specific outputs:

  • Over 12 key messages and graphics
  • 2 PR videos
  • 11 educational videos
  • 3 early childhood development videos (with counterpart funding from UNICEF)
  • The EmpoWEr microsite, which contains most of the outputs, including an e-book that can be accessed here.
Some of the primary school students in Saint Lucia who received E-Learning Devices. Credit: OECS Commission
Some of the primary school students in Saint Lucia who received E-Learning Devices posing with the prime Minister and other Ministers of Government at a handing over ceremony.
OECS Commission

The analytics for some of these materials are very encouraging. Between June 15 and October 30, 2021, there were 56 boosted posts that yielded a total of 3,713,126 impressions, reached 1,287,373 people within the OECS member states and generated 746 organic shares and 316,607 post engagements.

All these communication products through the EmpoWEr campaign will ensure that children in the OECS region and beyond, and their parents and teachers, are engaged and, more so, empowered in what seems to be disorienting and extraordinary times.

The EmpoWEr campaign is co-sponsored by UNICEF and the Republic Bank.

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