Joint Education Sector Monitoring during times of COVID-19

The GPE Secretariat has responded to a demand from partner countries for guidance that can support them in adapting and renewing their joint monitoring efforts and sector reviews in the current context.

January 13, 2022 by Carmela Salzano, GPE Secretariat, and Janne Kjaersgaard Perrier, GPE Secretariat
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4 minutes read
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A teacher gives her students some hand sanitizer before they enter the classroom. Niger, July 2021. Credit: GPE
A teacher gives her students some hand sanitizer before they enter the classroom.
Niger, July 2021

Credit: GPE

As countries continue to roll out their vaccine strategies and adjust to the disruptions generated by COVID-19, there is a strong push towards recovery. Post-crisis scenarios are emerging with countries doing what it takes to get back on track and build back better.

However, in an environment that is likely to be marked by uncertainty for some time, countries must also carve out time for learning - around the impacts on their public policies and what is needed to strengthen resilience against future shocks.

In the education sector, collaboration between a broad spectrum of stakeholders through joint monitoring can play an important role in taking stock and identifying emerging needs since the pandemic began, as well as identifying success stories and devising recovery strategies.

Assessing the impacts of COVID-19: from response to resilience

Around the world, the implementation of education policies and regular sector monitoring was largely put on hold during the pandemic as the focus of attention shifted to COVID-19 emergency response.

Ministries of Education, their development partners, and civil society were rightly preoccupied with mitigating the health impacts of the crisis. In many countries, this meant closing schools to keep children, teachers and education staff safe and shifting delivery to remote or hybrid learning.

In this context, it was essential to find complementary ways of understanding the impacts on access and the quality of teaching as well as the extent of learning losses. How many children were missing out on their education? Did children come back into the classroom once schools had reopened? Were education budgets protected and financing commitments kept?

At global level, UNESCO, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNICEF and the World Bank jointly launched the Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures to collect information on national responses to mass school closures from pre-primary to upper secondary levels.

Instruments such as the COVID-19 Global Education Recovery Tracker, a partnership between Johns Hopkins University, the World Bank and UNICEF, also drew from publicly available data to capture information on the status of schools, teachers and students in 200 countries.

So far, these instruments have generated valuable information on trends, good practices, similarities and differences of COVID-19 responses. It has also allowed for comparisons between and within regions. However, resilience must be built from the ground up, and as countries move further towards recovery, national monitoring mechanisms must get back up to speed.

National participatory monitoring efforts will be critical during recovery

In developing the guidance note Joint Education Sector Monitoring during times of COVID-19, GPE has responded to a demand from its partner countries for support in organizing joint monitoring and sector reviews that are responsive to the current context. It offers different levels of support - from high level advisory to technical considerations.

The guidance note acknowledges the challenges posed by COVID-19 context and takes organizers through key preparatory issues that should be considered for a successful joint monitoring exercise. Accompanying tips and deep dives take a closer look at technical issues, including how to prioritize data collection and overcome potential challenges throughout the process.

The guidance note consists of four different types of contents.
The guidance note consists of four different types of contents. The emphasis is always on what could be adjusted or done differently in times of COVID-19, while keeping in mind good practices and what remains the same.

The note encourages agility as priorities shift and countries move ahead, emphasizing that a number of approaches to joint monitoring are possible. Review organizers should decide on which is the most feasible considering the context and monitoring efforts already underway.

The value of joint sector reviews during times of COVID-19

Reviews in countries such as Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Zanzibar have built on the solidarity and stronger linkages forged between actors at the forefront of the COVID-19 response.

They have created spaces to listen to the lived experiences, ensuring that local partner perspectives are included in data collection, analysis and reporting. They have also generated evidence on continuity in schooling and learning progression (and loss) amongst different population groups, as well as establishing a clearer picture of emerging risks and needs.

As we move forward, governments must reach the most vulnerable learners who are still missing out on their right to education long after schools have reopened. In this regard, the new guidance note is part of GPE’s longer-term efforts to support its partner countries in systems adaptation and transformation through a responsive and resilient monitoring culture.

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