All of this, and more, was made possible through the support of the Global Partnership for Education as part of its $500 million COVID-19 emergency response fund.
A rapid support with GPE emergency grants
Like most countries, Zambia shut its schools in March 2020 to try to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has taken such a devastating toll on the world, with millions of lives lost, millions more people thrust into poverty, economies shattered and a cataclysmic disruption to children’s education.
School closures did not just wreak havoc on students’ learning. Children in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere have faced increased gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy and child marriage, poorer nutrition, and lifetime earning losses of thousands of dollars per child.
GPE, through its $10 million COVID-19 emergency grant to Zambia, not only helped the school system prepare to reopen schools, but also kept learning going for vulnerable children during the initial various shutdowns (after a full reopening in September 2020, schools were closed again during the last two weeks of January), through multiple interventions.
UNICEF oversees the implementation of this grant and is instrumental in ensuring its activities are carried out effectively.
That’s especially important for children in a country like Zambia, already disadvantaged by the low quality of learning and teaching, a teacher shortage, and insufficient learning materials.
Keeping learning going during closures and after reopening
When schools were closed, GPE supported the development of educational radio programming, including the translation of radio content for the youngest learners into five local languages.
Public awareness and sensitization campaigns were aired on community radio stations to provide psychosocial support and minimize the negative impact of school closures on gender-based violence, child marriage and pregnancy; the radio campaign reached nearly 1 million children and adults.