South-South cooperation in the COVID-19 education response: Practices from China

As the coronavirus sweeps across the globe, teaching and learning entities are confronted with unprecedented challenges. While developed countries have taken prompt measures to support education and minimize COVID-19 consequences, see how China is cooperating with developing countries to help them hone their COVID-19 education response.

April 27, 2020 by Haogen Yao, UNESCO-ICHEI , Hassan A. Shehzad, UNESCO-ICHEI and Xiaotong (Sherry) Duan, UNESCO-ICHEI
|
4 minutes read
|
Online global co-launch of the International Institute of Online Education (IIOE) ceremony. Credit: UNESCO-ICHEI
Online global co-launch of the International Institute of Online Education (IIOE) ceremony.
UNESCO-ICHEI

As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe, teaching and learning entities are confronted with unprecedented challenges.

Schools in developing countries are particularly vulnerable in the face of this crisis. Developed countries have taken prompt measures to support education and minimize COVID-19 consequences.

So did countries in the South!

Practical experience from China for distance education

In China, the education community quickly came together to continue teaching over 270 million students via flexible online methods, and to share the pragmatic experience obtained.

Specifically, the UNESCO International Research and Training Center for Rural Education (INRULED) in Beijing, the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University, along with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education (IITE) have jointly released a handbook on how to organize flexible learning options, as well as guidance on active learning at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Both resources share practical experiences in China and offer suggestions from diverse cases and relevant theories. The Handbook concentrates on teaching entities (the institutes) while the Guidance focuses on individuals (the learners).

The Handbook highlights flexible online learning strategies to help schools and presents best practices.

The Guidance steers students’ active learning at home with a framework, practical examples, and recommendations for staying in good physical and mental health.

Both documents are available in English and will soon be translated into other languages with support from the UNESCO International Center for Higher Education Innovation (UNESCO-ICHEI).

A new institute for tertiary online education

Meanwhile, at the tertiary level, various actors have come together to build an international online learning platform. 110 higher education institutions (HEIs) and enterprises in China participate in this movement, along with 37 online curriculum and technology platforms, releasing over 41,000 massive open online courses (MOOCs) and virtual reality (VR) courses to students for free.

In addition, quality assurance frameworks and evaluation mechanisms are in place to ensure the quality of these resources. As a next step and under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, 100+ online courses of high quality will be shared internationally on established platforms, including iCourse and XuetangX.

China is also providing substantial support for teacher professional development in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries. On April 2, 2020, the International Institute of Online Education (IIOE) was co-launched online by UNESCO-ICHEI with top-tier HEIs in 11 BRI countries (of those, 7 are GPE partner countries) in Asia-Africa, and 4 HEIs and 8 Ed-Tech enterprises in China.

Providing online professional development for teachers

Generously funded by Tencent Charity Foundation, the initial focus of IIOE is on teachers’ professional development and institutional capacity building regarding ICT application in higher education. The launch was timed to match UNESCO’s global call on supporting developing countries to mitigate the adverse impacts of school closures.

IIOE platform on April 2 and the moderation of the first online COVID-19 response training on April 7, 2020. Photo credit: IIOE
IIOE platform on April 2 and the moderation of the first online COVID-19 response training on April 7, 2020.
IIOE

Just five days after the launch, the IIOE Secretariat held its very first webinar titled “Using ZOOM to deliver effective virtual lectures”. Close to 400 educators (40% female) from 13 countries participated, with 800 questions and answers recorded in the webinar chat.

Later the second webinar on course development received participants from 65 institutions from 23 countries, and the third webinar on distance learning reached over 100 French-speaking educators in Africa and the Middle East. Such an overwhelming reception by the participants boosted the IIOE Secretariat’s confidence in continuing its COVID-19 response series, which include five English-language webinars, two French-language webinars, and three resource packages within two months, facilitated by experts from all over the world and tailored to the demand of partner HEIs. The training materials are accessible on the IIOE Library.

IIOE COVID-19 Response Training Series, April and May 2020
IIOE COVID-19 Response Training Series, April and May 2020.

It is worth mentioning that IIOE follows the principle of joint contribution and shared benefits. The first cohort of partner HEIs will receive not only IIOE support, but will also produce and contribute course and training resources back to the IIOE community.

To do so, they will use local ‘smart classrooms’ that have been established by UNESCO-ICHEI and its partners.

Smart classrooms in Cambodia, Egypt, Djibouti and Pakistan. Credit: IIOE
Smart classrooms in Cambodia, Egypt, Djibouti and Pakistan.
IIOE

Because we know that what works best in the South is what has been tested in the South, the last IIOE session will gather and share COVID-19 response experiences from all partners in the institute.

China’s tackling of the ongoing crisis in education systems couldn’t have been possible without the participation from all countries in the world. As the first country to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, China had distinctive knowledge and experiences to offer other countries, in the form of handbooks, guidance, course resources, infrastructure, educational tools, teaching and learning services, regional cooperation and trainings in emergencies.

Now that COVID-19 has become a global crisis, all stakeholders in the education field from all countries in the world should work together to overcome this enormous challenge.

Note: The first cohort of IIOE partners include Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria), Ain Shams University (Egypt), Makerere University (Uganda), Mongolian University of Science and Technology (Mongolia), Royal University of Phnom Penh (Cambodia), University of Colombo (Sri Lanka), University of Djibouti (Djibouti). University of Engineering and Technology Lahore (Pakistan), University of The Gambia (Gambia), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Southern University of Science and Technology (China), Xidian University (China), Shenzhen Institute of Information Technology (China), Shenzhen Polytechnic (China), Huawei, Weidong Cloud Education, CreateView Education Technology, iFLYTEK, UBTech, CIOTimes, CODEMAO, and Jiker.

Post a comment or
China

Latest blogs

Comments

How our university (The University of Faisalabad, Pakistan) students could participate in online education?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.