The COVID-19 crisis reminds us of the importance of reliable data and robust evidence to inform the health choices we make, but also the choices in education. During school closures, how can appropriate forms of technology help to reach all learners, rather than only the lucky few? How can that technology be used to develop the skills that matter most for work and life?
When is it safe – for learners, for teachers and for their families and communities – to reopen schools? Which students have been left behind most? How can we help them catch up on their lost learning? How do we encourage and support teacher leadership and teacher effectiveness in these challenging times? And what about parent involvement?
Research and evidence can help provide answers to these questions
In our experience, this works best when researchers like the REAL Centre and implementers like VVOB come together to understand, apply and scale approaches informed by research – rather than working independently in separate silos.
A recent example we’d like to share is a collaboration between our organisations in Rwanda for the Leaders in Teaching initiative, funded by the Mastercard Foundation. Together with Laterite, the REAL Centre conducted phone surveys to understand the challenges that teachers and school leaders face during school closures.
The content of these phone surveys was informed by local organizations involved in the initiative, including VVOB, and will also shape these organisations’ ongoing activities. We are sharing findings with the Rwanda Education Board, and we hope this work will contribute to policy discussions on strategies and contingencies for reopening schools in Rwanda.
Using what we learned in past crises to respond better
As schools around the world are reopening, we must use the best available evidence to achieve learning outcomes and ensure learner wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented challenges for all of us: now more than ever we should make optimal use of the evidence gathered from research on previous education disruptions.