Response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic

GPE is supporting lower-income countries to mitigate the impacts that school closures have on the most vulnerable children and to build the resilience of education systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an education emergency of unprecedented scale. As of March 2021, close to half the world’s students are still out of school due to partial or full school closures linked to the pandemic.

GPE has quickly mobilized more than US$500 million to support partner countries with planning and implementing their response to the pandemic. This funding is helping governments sustain learning for up to 355 million children in 66 countries.

GPE is working across the partnership to promote coordinated responses that are country-driven, aligned behind government priorities, and to share information and experiences.

Results of GPE COVID-19 grants

Discover how the rapid support by GPE to 66 partner countries is making a difference in keeping millions of children learning and back to school safely.

Soraya, 10, seated in her classroom after her school reopened with COVID safety measures in place. Soraya is among the thousands of children in Niger who can continue learning during the pandemic thanks to GPE funding.

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Credit: UNICEF/Niger

Mothers have advocated throughout neighborhoods to make sure all students can go back to school.

“Djibouti’s education system can’t be transformed without the vision of the parents. Prioritizing parents and parents’ associations is one of the challenges set by the Minister of Education and Professional Training, Moustapha Mohamed Mahamoud,” stressed Abdi Dirir Guirreh, Director General Education, MENFOP.

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Credit: Abdi Dirir / Ministry of Education, Djibouti

A boy reads as his grandmother looks on. The book is part of a series of audio-visual and printed materials produced by the Timor Leste's Ministry of Education and UNICEF, with support from a US$3.5 million GPE grant, to help children continue learning during school closures.

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Credit: UNICEF/UNI320756/Soares

"GPE funding for Pakistan is essential to ensure children’s safety, especially the most vulnerable, and to ensure learning continuity during the pandemic. It is also the first part of a development partners’ package to support Pakistan to respond, recover, and rebuild a better education system." Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

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Credit: UNICEF/Adil Nodezai, District Manager, Gwadar, Balochistan

“I am very pleased that the Government of Papua New Guinea, through the National Department of Education, is among the first 10 countries in the world to secure funds from GPE to address the impact of COVID-19 on our basic education system. It is imperative that our students return to classes now that our schools have reopened and that schools be a safe place for teaching and learning for all children and their teachers” Joseph Yopyyopy, Minister for Education, Papua New Guinea.

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Credit: Kateholtphoto
Pumla Dlamini is a grade 6 student at Usutu Forest Primary school in the Hhohho region.

She currently attends school virtually through Google class. She begins class at 8:00am with a 30-min. session interacting with the teacher, and then undertakes her school work, which is posted and graded on Google class. The teachers constantly communicate with parents and guardians to inform them of the work given to learners and how they can support learners. Pumla is one of few lucky students who have access to web-based distance learning.

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Credit: Kingsley Gwebu/UNICEF

A Dominican librarian delivers training for parents on how to better support their children's learning at home.

A US$3 million GPE grant allocated to Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, supports the implementation of the regional response plan, helping to ensure learning opportunities for every child during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Credit: OECS Commission

Chanda Fwalo, 13, a grade 6 student (left), and Cleopatra Mulenga, 16 (right), are listening to a lesson via radio at home. The GPE-supported program recognizes that not all students have the same access to remote learning platforms. Therefore, vulnerable students, including girls and children from low-income households, received solar radios and SD cards with pre-recorded lessons to ensure they can continue learning -even in areas with poor or no coverage.

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Credit: Ministry of General Education, Zambia

An older girl shows a kindergartner how to properly wash her hands using water and soap. Ban Jadid Primary School, El-Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan (2019).

In Sudan, the program supported by an US$11 million GPE grant broadcasts lessons on TV and radio to ensure children continue learning during the pandemic. While radio programs target children in grades 1-8 in all 18 states, TV lessons complements radio instruction in the capital and urbanized areas. The program also supports water and hygiene for safely reopening schools.

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Credit: UNICEF/Noorani/UNI233850

“We developed a solid studying routine, a couple of weeks after we came home. But when our teachers could not state with certainty the day we were to return to school, we lost hope as we didn’t even understand what we were studying for.” Yankho (15 years old), Malawi.

Yankho in front of her house with her mother and her twin sister Pemphero, with their learning materials on the chair behind them.

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Credit: UNICEF Malawi/2020/Gondwe

With backpacks on their backs, girls run through the streets in Sao Tome and Principe.

“Each day, I share a meal with my students to foster a sense of community and seeing them smile makes me very happy. I tell them how the food arrived on their plates, and how the kitchen helpers have prepared their meal with the best ingredients available. Like education, nutrition is a social process. It’s development. It’s our life.” Paul Jorge, Director of the school of Battepa’ in Sao Tome and Principe.

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Ketsavan Chalensouk, 18, was able to finish grade 12 after schools reopened in Lao PDR.

“We were at home for too long. This is my last year in school and I was worried that we will not be able to appear for state exams. I am so relieved to be back.”

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Credit: UNICEF Laos/2020/AKarki

Students at a school in Mamou, Guinea, wearing masks and practicing social distancing. To curb the pandemic, Guinea developed a response plan calling for a coordinated response aimed at ensuring the continuity of learning and safely reopening schools. GPE is supporting the country with a US$7 million accelerated COVID-19 grant.

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Credit: Aboubakar Sidiki

Kevin Igihozo, 11, studies at home due to coronavirus-related school closures, listening to his lessons on the radio every day.

"Through GPE funding, vulnerable children will be reached to ensure that learning continues during school closure and that children get back to school after re-opening through back-to-school campaigns to make sure that ALL students, including girls, children with disability and those from lower socioeconomic families, do not drop out of school." Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Education, Rwanda.

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Credit: UNICEF

Masks, protective gowns, gloves, gels, soaps, eco-friendly handwashing stations and thermometers have been provided to schools in Cabo Verde to help ensure the effectiveness of the new health measures and allow schools to reopen their doors.

Credit: UNICEF Cabo Verde

“I was worried about my teachers and classmates. If the school closes for a more extended period, they may choose to leave us and go to another town. I love my teachers and my favorite subject is Somali. Even though learning was disrupted, I have not been discouraged. I am optimistic that my dream of becoming a teacher will come true” says Sadiq*, grade 2 student (name has been modified due to children protection safeguards).

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Credit: Save the Children

"I wash my hands before I go to class and as soon as I get home. It has become a routine, even though it was a little difficult at first. The games at school have changed a little bit with COVID-19 as we don't have to touch each other and we need to keep our masks on".
Angela, 10, student in grade 5

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Credit: UNICEF/2021/MARANATHA
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Map of COVID-19 grants and stories

To view grant amounts, click on countries in blue.
To view grant amounts and results stories, click on countries in green.

Our response

Between April and October 2020, GPE approved $467 million in COVID-19 accelerated grants to 66 countries and another $25 million for a global grant to UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Grant allocations by category
(in US$ millions)

Distance learning methods
(in US$ millions)

The country grants help ensure that girls and children from the poorest families, who have been hit hardest by school closures, are not left behind.

  • Grants support partner countries' response in:
    • Equity: Hygiene and psychosocial support programs, with priority for the most vulnerable children, including children with disabilities.
    • Learning: Distance learning initiatives, provision of learning materials, support to teachers in distance and accelerated remedial learning programs.
    • System resilience and school reopening: Preparations for the reopening of schools by ensuring that students and teachers can return to safe education facilities.
  • 41% of the grants support low tech solutions for distance learning (radio and TV); 35% support printed materials, and 24% support e-learning.

More details on thematic allocations of COVID-19 grants

COVID-19 grants

  • 66 countries received COVID-19 accelerated grants totalling US$467 million (see table below)
  • 87 countries received a COVID-19 planning grant in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic for a total of US$8.8 million
  • a US$25 million global grant funds a joint initiative by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank to ensure regional and global efficiencies and knowledge sharing in the education pandemic response.

More information on COVID-19 grants

View data on COVID-19 and education

Approved grants

Click on each country in the table below to learn more about COVID-19 grants and related documentation

Country Amount (US$ M) Grant agent
Afghanistan 11 UNICEF
Bangladesh 15 World Bank
Benin 7 World Bank
Bhutan 0.75 Save the Children
Burkina Faso 7 AFD
Burundi 7 UNICEF
Cabo Verde 0.75 UNICEF
Cambodia 7 UNICEF
Cameroon 11 UNESCO
Central African Republic 7 UNICEF
Chad 7 World Bank
Comoros 0.75 UNICEF
DR Congo 15 UNICEF
Republic of Congo 7 UNICEF
Cote d'Ivoire 11 UNICEF
Djibouti 3.5 World Bank
Ethiopia 15 World Bank
The Gambia 3.5 World Bank
Ghana 15 World Bank
Guinea 7 UNICEF
Guinea Bissau 3.5 UNICEF
Guyana 3.5 UNICEF
Haiti 7 UNICEF
Kenya 11 World Bank
Kiribati 0.75 UNICEF
Lao PDR 7 UNICEF
Lesotho 3.47 UNICEF
Liberia 7 UNICEF
Madagascar 15 World Bank
Malawi 10 UNICEF
Maldives 0.75 UNICEF
Mali 7 World Bank
Marshall Islands 0.75 UNICEF
Mauritania 3.5 IsDB
FS Micronesia 0.75 UNICEF
Mozambique 15 UNICEF
Myanmar 11 UNICEF
Nepal 11 World Bank
Nicaragua 7 World Bank
Niger 11 AFD/UNICEF
Nigeria 15 UNICEF
OECS (Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines) 3 OECS
Pakistan 20 World Bank
Papua New Guinea 9.44 UNICEF
Rwanda 10 World Bank
Sao Tome and Principe 0.75 UNICEF
Samoa 0.75 UNICEF
Senegal 7 AFD
Sierra Leone 7 World Bank
Solomon Islands 0.75 UNICEF
Somalia (Federal Government) 5.4 Save the Children
Somalia (Puntland) 1.3 UNICEF
Somalia (Somaliland) 2.2 Save the Children
South Sudan 7 UNICEF
Sudan 11 World Bank
Tanzania 15.16 SIDA
Tanzania (Zanzibar) 1.5 UNICEF
Timor-Leste 3.5 UNICEF
Togo 7 World Bank
Tonga 0.75 Save the Children
Tuvalu 0.75 UNICEF
Uganda 15 World Bank
Vanuatu 0.75 Save the Children
Yemen 11 ISDB
Zambia 10 UNICEF
Zimbabwe 7 UNICEF
TOTAL 467.22  

Last updated: November 2, 2020

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