In this blog series, we highlight emerging results from the GPE Knowledge and Innovation Exchange that demonstrate how demand-driven evidence can be generated and mobilized to support education systems strengthening in the Global South. This blog presents findings from one of KIX’s applied research projects – explore them all here.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to education in African countries. In response, researchers have mobilized to produce actionable evidence that supports system recovery and resilience.
What can this experience teach us about the ability of education systems to absorb the shock of a crisis? How can research help assess—in real time—government efforts to change policy and practice to sustain learning? And how can we turn the learning losses suffered by students into valuable lessons for the future?
This is how the KIX Observatory project came to be. Starting in 2021, researchers worked to collect and synthesize policy and practice responses of 40 partner countries of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in Africa.
Focusing on two main areas—the operation of education systems and the wellbeing of learners—researchers examined the following topics: education financing, the psychosocial wellbeing of school children, school reopenings, teacher training and support, and learning assessment.
Findings from the research on COVID-19 impact on school systems
Financing education responses to COVID-19. All GPE partner countries in Africa made contingency plans to fund responses related to education disruptions caused by the pandemic. More than half of the contingency funds supported preparations for school reopening and the use of distance learning solutions, while about 6% targeted learning support to vulnerable children, including those with special needs and displaced populations.
Although governments drew on existing education, supplementary and special program budgets to provide domestic resources, the funding heavily relied on external sources, such as GPE, the World Bank, UNICEF, and Education Cannot Wait.
When available, domestic emergency funding enhanced the ability of education systems to adapt to COVID-19 disruptions. For example, in Ghana, the government and its partners financed content development, curation and delivery of distance learning, and an enhanced digital library. In Cabo Verde, the government supported lesson delivery through radio, television and the use of tablets.
Overall wellbeing of school children. The impact of the pandemic on the psychosocial wellbeing of school children may be one of the longest lasting effects of COVID-19 disruptions to educational systems. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) increased by almost half in partner countries in Africa during the crisis.
Child helplines and violence prevention services were disrupted, with 57% and 71% of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, respectively, reporting at least one form of disruption.