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.