GPE’s response to COVID-19: Rapidly mobilizing to face an unprecedented challenge

Read how the partnership is rallying to support developing country partners to ensure they can strengthen their education systems and make them more resilient to crises.

March 27, 2020 by GPE Secretariat
3 minutes read
Fourteen of the fifteen girls who are receiving the GPE supported girls’ scholarship at Makalondi Secondary School (including Marie and Mimbouaba). The program, which is still in its pilot phase, supports 700 girls in the country and has been in place since the start of school year 2015-16. Makalondi Secondary School, Makalondi, Tilaberri Region, Niger.
14 of the 15 girls who are receiving the GPE-supported girls’ scholarship at Makalondi Secondary School. The program supports 700 girls in the country and has been in place since the start of school year 2015-16. Makalondi Secondary School, Makalondi, Tilaberri Region, Niger.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

For more than a billion children around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is so much more than a health crisis.

School closures in more than 165 countries have disrupted education on a scale that the world has never seen. Nine in ten students in the world have been cut off from their friends, learning, and the vital services and protection that schools provide.

As of March 26, 57 GPE partner countries have closed schools, interrupting education for more than 600 million children. We must act now to support education systems, which are a lifeline to so many children.

The challenges our partner countries face are varied and unique. How do you implement distance learning when none of your students have access to the internet? Or teach children to wash their hands where soap and running water are not readily available?

That’s why GPE is mobilizing to respond to partners’ needs and providing financial and technical support to governments to deal with this emergency. Aligning behind government priorities and leadership as well as sharing information and experiences are paramount to reach the children most in need.

Kick-starting response and recovery

As a first step to ensure resources are quickly available to the countries that need them most, GPE has partnered with UNICEF to provide $8.8 million in emergency funding to kick-start education responses and address urgent priorities in 87 countries.

UNICEF country offices will start receiving funding as early as next week to help governments coordinate response planning, communicate around safe school operations, share knowledge and build capacity for this and future health crises.

Education ministries will be able to use this support for a variety of activities, such as preparing continuity of learning programs, providing vital information on handwashing and other preventative measures, setting up counselling to support students’ mental health and launching campaigns to prevent stigma and discrimination about the virus.

Rallying our partnership

We must act urgently to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on children in developing countries.

GPE is moving swiftly to make additional support available to developing country governments and keep children safe and learning

Long-term school closures could have lasting psychosocial impacts on children while increasing inequalities. Evidence shows that when vulnerable children are out of school, they are exposed to increased risks of being exploited.

Girls are more vulnerable to gender-based violence, early marriage and teenage pregnancy. Boys are at higher risk of recruitment into armed groups.

Even as we mobilize to meet immediate needs, we must look ahead. In a few short weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken education systems to their core. In response, we must invest now in system-wide solutions and align our support behind coordinated actions that will enable a speedy recovery, build resilience and prepare our partner countries for the future.

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We have proposed Sector Wide Approach in relation to sustainable development in Education sector, especially in developing countries. Am glad we are again looking in that direction

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