Global Partnership for Education approves over US$400 million for education to keep children learning through the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis
A girl in Timor Leste shows off the online platform on which she can access online learning during school closures. Credit: UNICEF/UNI320751/Soares

Washington, DC, July 8, 2020 – The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has approved grants totaling US$381 million to help 47 countries respond to coronavirus-related school closures and ensure children are continuing to learn during the pandemic. A further $20 million is being provided to a joint initiative managed by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank, that will ensure regional and global efficiencies and knowledge sharing.

Nearly 720 million students are still out of school in developing countries, where the combined impacts of school closures and economic hardship due to the coronavirus threaten to reverse decades of hard-won gains in education. Girls are especially at risk, as they are more likely to have to take on household chores alongside remote learning. When girls are out of school, they are also more vulnerable to gender-based violence, early marriage and teenage pregnancy.

 “There is a real risk that millions of the most vulnerable children, especially girls, will never set foot in a classroom again,” said Alice Albright, GPE Chief Executive Officer. “GPE is committed to ensuring that no child’s education is left behind because of COVID-19. Our emergency funds are helping partner countries keep children engaged in learning and make sure they can return when schools reopen.” 

Developing country governments are using GPE funds to improve access to remote learning, support the safe reopening of schools and strengthen the resilience of the education sector to respond to future emergencies.

Remote learning solutions being applied in GPE partner countries vary widely, but three quarters rely on radio, television and print materials. These approaches ensure that the most marginalized children – those without access to internet connectivity or even electricity – aren’t falling too far behind. GPE works with partner countries to ensure that grants focus heavily on the most marginalized children, for example by providing materials adapted to children with learning disorders or disabilities.

“It’s essential that distance learning programs are reaching the poorest and most marginalized girls and boys and are not just accessible to the rich and able,” said Serigne Mbaye Thiam, GPE Vice Board Chair. “GPE’s emergency funding ensures that countries get technical and financial support to sustain learning for all their children.”

Many governments are using several platforms simultaneously to reach the greatest number of students. In Rwanda, GPE’s $10 million grant will support radio and television programming, and also deliver educational content online via YouTube and e-learning. The small island nation of Timor-Leste is using its $3.5 million grant to expand its Eskola Ba Uma (“School goes home”) initiative, which consists of a series of dynamic school lessons broadcast on radio and television, and made available in print and online.

Some countries are using the impetus caused by the COVID-19 crisis to invest in solutions that will provide greater resilience to future disruptions. The Eastern Caribbean States of Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are using a regional grant from GPE to give every child across the four countries access to an online learning device. An innovative partnership with the telecommunications sector will ensure that access to e-learning materials is free. This investment in remote learning could also be used in future emergencies – the four countries are among the most vulnerable in the world to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Following the launch of GPE’s COVID-19 fund on April 1st, 51 countries have applied for an initial amount of $537 million in emergency grants. In response to the high demand, GPE increased its COVID-19 funding window to $500 million in June. An additional 16 countries are expected to apply for $51 million in the coming months.


Note to editors: 

Grant applications are based on countries' existing COVID-19 education response plans. GPE previously provided US$ 8.8 million to support 87 countries to develop these plans. 

47 countries have received funding so far: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominica, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia (Federal and Puntland), South Sudan, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Tanzania (Mainland and Zanzibar), Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe

About the Global Partnership for Education 

The Global Partnership for Education supports close to 70 developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility or conflict. GPE mobilizes financing for education and supports developing countries to build effective education systems founded on evidence-based planning and policies. 

Media contact 

Peter Carlson – @email +33 6 10 01 74 68

A girl in Timor Leste shows off the online platform on which she can access online learning during school closures. Credit: UNICEF/UNI320751/Soares

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