Beginning in May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools in Nigeria on a greater scale and with a more severe impact on learning than ever before. 50 million students were left unable to go to school, participate in lessons and interact with their teachers and peers. This has not only left significant learning gaps, but for millions of children has also meant that they may never return to school, contributing to an increase in the overall number of out-of-school children in the country.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria had been making steady progress in providing access to schooling and improving the quality of education. To mitigate the effects of the school closures and enable this progress to continue, GPE initially provided Nigeria with US$140,000 through a global grant to UNICEF. The grant supported the Ministry of Education in the development of Nigeria’s COVID-19 education response called the “opening better” school initiative. The government’s plan involved providing alternative and remote learning opportunities using radio and television platforms.
GPE’s subsequent support of US$15 million COVID-19 accelerated funding enabled children to continue learning through access to diverse remote learning programs. These included radio, television, online platforms, community learning and take-home learning materials that were appropriate for each context to meet the needs of each child including the most vulnerable.
A digital learning platform to support in and out of school learning
Schools re-opened on October 12, 2020, after closing for over 90 days. Having developed a remote learning platform to support distance learning during the pandemic, Nigeria turned its attention to strengthening the quality of education and supporting meaningful interactions among teachers and learners both in-person and online. Nigeria harnessed its progress on its remote platform to develop the national learning management system, the Nigeria Learning Passport (NLP).
The Nigeria Learning Passport is part of the global Learning Passport initiative developed in 2018 through a collaboration between UNICEF and Microsoft as a pilot program. This initiative enabled millions of children and youth affected by crises and displacement to continue accessing quality education. The platform, first deployed in Timor Leste, was taken up by multiple countries during the pandemic to enable learning continuity during school closures.
The Learning Passport continues to be the platform of choice for over 30 countries around the world, including Brazil, Mexico, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and now Nigeria, as they aim to recover from the pandemic, develop quality, inclusive digital learning ecosystems and reimagine education to be more resilient during future crises.