GPE’s COVID-19 response: How partner countries are using their grants

Since we launched the world’s largest education emergency fund of more than US$500 million to support lower-income countries’ COVID-19 response, 66 grants have been awarded to help governments to sustain learning for as many as 355 million children. Behind these numbers are stories of creativity and thoughtful planning to tailor responses to local conditions.

November 24, 2020 by GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
 People take precautions in Mali against COVID-19 (coronavirus). Credit: World Bank / Ousmane Traore (MAKAVELI)
People take precautions in Mali against COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Credit: Credit: World Bank / Ousmane Traore (MAKAVELI)

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools, shutting out nearly 1.6 billion children, the world faced the largest education emergency in modern history. Educational progress and the lives of the most vulnerable children were at stake. At the Global Partnership for Education, we met the crisis head-on.

We quickly launched what would become the world’s largest education emergency fund of more than US$500 million.

Since the fund launched, we’ve made 66 grants to help governments sustain learning for as many as 355 million children in the poorest countries. We targeted our funds where they matter most – to girls, children with disabilities and poor children.

Behind these numbers are stories of creativity and thoughtful planning to tailor responses to local conditions.

Sudan develops innovative solutions for distance learning

Even before the pandemic, Sudan face many challenges to educate its children. About 2.5 million were not in school. For those going to school, the lack of trained teachers, textbooks and good school infrastructure was impeding learning.

Sudan is using its US$11 million GPE emergency grant to develop innovative solutions for 5.4 million children through distance learning and to train 33,000 teachers in remote teaching. The program is creating TV and radio lessons, giving 287,000 children radios with solar-power chargers, printing homework assignments in newspapers, and buying cell phone data for teachers to communicate with students.

In a country where 1 in 6 educators is a community teacher--typically paid by the local community--school closures have severely affected teachers’ livelihoods. GPE’s grant incentivizes these teachers with small stipends to collect and grade students’ homework. Similarly, students are offered prizes to complete assignments and eventually return to school.

GPE is funding water storage tanks to promote handwashing, messages to encourage parents to help their children learn remotely. GPE’s support also promotes the resilience of the education system through alternative and innovative approaches so the country can better withstand future shocks.

In Pakistan, organizing distance education beyond the pandemic

Pakistan’s economic, political and security challenges have long affected access to quality education and learning and large numbers of children, especially girls and those in rural areas, are out of school.

GPE’s US$20 million grant to Pakistan is expected to benefit at least 11 million students and teachers. Pakistan is promoting equity through incentives for provinces to invest in the most disadvantaged regions and encourage distance learning. The program could become a catalyst to formalize distance education to reach out-of-school children after the pandemic.

Through the program, lessons are aired on TV and radio, or disseminated in print and via mobile phone and social media for children most at risk of dropping out. The program is reinforcing messages to girls about the importance of learning. The remote learning efforts can offer a pathway to learning for the 19 million children who were out of school before the pandemic.

In Papua New Guinea, targeting support to student’s needs

Educational challenges are steep in Papua New Guinea, where 1 of 3 people is illiterate and lives in a rural area. Only 3 of 10 students can read a few sentences after 3 years of school.

As the pandemic began, a needs assessment found that more than half of students in three quarters of the country’s schools have no electricity at home, so learning through technology was not an option.

Instead, GPE’s US$9.4 million emergency grant is funding learning kits targeted to individual student needs; for example, visually impaired students receive braille and large print materials. GPE is also funding a parenting kit with tips about how to use positive discipline to encourage children to learn remotely.

The program has supported a national back-to-school campaign, giving children incentive kits with learning materials, solar lamps and stationery. GPE also is funding handwashing stations, hygiene kits, and disaster risk management planning to make the education system more resilient to future crises.

GPE aims its support at the most vulnerable students

Across all countries, 75% of GPE grants support equity and learning initiatives, with the remainder supporting reopening efforts and systems resilience. Nearly 52% of grants target girls.

Of distance learning grants, 41% go to radio and TV, considered low-tech solutions, 24% to online solutions via mobile phone, tablets or web platforms, and the rest to printed materials. 60% support recovery efforts, with the rest funding mitigation efforts.

GPE responded to the COVID-19 education crisis with unprecedented speed and scale. There are still many challenges ahead, as countries re-open or close their schools again depending on the spread of the virus.

We will continue our efforts to build stronger and more resilient education systems to ensure all children can continue learning during this crisis and future ones.

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Thanks for what you are doing for the world in those specified areas of seeing the population is helped.
My concern is we have girl children in hopeless educational status. And in this covid 19 crisis, many of them have been impregnated.
On this background, Iwould like find out if we could partner with you in the area of Girl child Education.

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