Dear partners, friends and colleagues,
In recent weeks, we have all watched with concern as the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has spread to become a global pandemic.
As the CEO of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), I stand with all partners who have been affected by this crisis, but I am particularly concerned about the potentially serious impact that disruptions to education will have on children in our partner countries.
The outbreak has already forced more than 800 million children and adolescents to suspend their schooling for an indefinite period, cutting them off from their friends, learning, and the vital services and protection that education systems provide. As of today, 24 of our partner countries have already closed schools. (For the latest information on school closings, visit UNESCO).
GPE is mobilizing to provide financial support to governments to strengthen the resilience of education systems and will be communicating more details as soon as we can. We are retaining our sharp focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized children, who will be hit the hardest by school closures and by the economic impacts of the pandemic, and on ensuring that partners keep gender equality at the center of their response.
GPE is also:
- Sharing information: GPE has joined with other education partners to share expert guidance (prepared by UNICEF, WHO and IFRC) on what schools can do to help prevent COVID-19 and remain welcoming, respectful and inclusive environments for students.
- Promoting coordination: GPE will continue to support local education groups to align their support and meet the most critical needs and priorities in a coordinated way.
- Reviewing lessons learned: During the Ebola outbreak in 2014/15, GPE helped Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone come up with strategies to keep millions of children learning. These experiences may hold valuable lessons for the present pandemic.
- Reducing transmission: In early March, GPE suspended all non-essential travel. As of March 13, all GPE staff in our Washington D.C., Paris and Brussels offices are working from home, as part of our efforts to protect staff health and reduce the transmission of the virus.
The Global Partnership for Education was created out of a belief that in the face of great challenges, we are stronger together. At a time when physical borders are closing, I urge us all to maintain our spirit of solidarity and keep the needs of the most vulnerable children at the top of our agendas. In partnership, we will get through this.