CapED launches COVID-19 Education Responses in 17 countries

The impact of COVID-19 on education is unprecedented. At its peak, UNESCO documented 194 country-wide school closures, constituting a near-global shut down. The challenges education now faces include a threat to access and quality of learning, potential for higher school drop-out rates, and the widening of inequality gaps to name a few.

As global education priorities changed in the face of this new crisis, UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme was able to rapidly adapt its actions and deploy its expertise at Headquarters, Field Offices and Institutes in 17 countries. In line with national education sector plans and with a USD 2.8 million budget, CapED is supporting the development of radio and TV content, crisis-sensitive planning, teacher development and awareness raising for students, parents and local communities. It is expected to reach 120,000 teachers and education personnel on distance learning alone.

CapED’s interventions are in line with the three flagships of the new Global Education Coalition that UNESCO founded to respond to the education crisis caused by COVID-19 and protect the right to education. These flagships are: Connectivity, Teachers and Gender Equality.

Connectivity Flagship

CapED is focusing on increasing the supply and quality of distance learning materials, resources, and platforms, as well as supporting countries in resilience planning. For instance, it is providing technical support to the Governments of Mauritania, Mozambique and Myanmar to develop COVID-19 Education Response Plans and in South Sudan the focus will be on developing a TVET-specific Response Plan.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, through CapED, UNESCO is co-financing COVID-19 education response activities with Education Cannot Wait (ECW). With the country’s internet coverage estimated to be less than 20%, (according to the 2018 MICS survey) UNESCO and ECW are focusing their joint interventions on remote learning via radio, especially community radio, with the aim of reaching over 4 million learners. To this end, UNESCO and ECW are adapting the primary education curriculum, as well as year 8, into radio lessons. The Programme is also helping strengthen the capacities of 120 community radio stations and 240 community radio staff to broadcast the lessons.

In Senegal, CapED is also working alongside partners to support the national COVID-19 education response under the Connectivity Flagship.  Through the Global Education Coalition, Senegal’s Ministry of Education requested UNESCO’s support in developing a strategic plan for remote learning and ensuring its implementation in partnership with Microsoft. The initiative aims at fixing the digital divide facing those in marginalised areas through the provision of Microsoft Teams accounts to some 81,000 teachers and over 700,000 learners as well as low-cost connectivity options to regions where large infrastructure projects would take too long to implement.  Since teachers’ preparedness to use technology in rolling out on-line learning is key, CapED is helping train 200 pedagogical Ministry staff to become master trainers who will train classroom teachers on providing remote teaching through the TEAMS platform.

Teacher Flagship

Many of CapED’s COVID-19 response interventions focus on both the Connectivity and Teacher Flagships by training educators to adjust to remote teaching. This is the case in Bangladesh, where CapED has developed draft guidelines which will be used in teacher CapED’s interventions are in line with the three flagships of the new  In addition, CapED is supporting the recording and broadcasting of audio content through public and community radio, as well as mobile phones. The initiative aims to develop 170 audio programmes adapted to radio and mobile for primary education with a focus on core subjects, as well as train radio operators on how to produce and deliver radio and mobile-based learning.

In Uganda and Zambia for example, CapED is carrying out teacher assessments to determine the ICT competency levels of teachers. In the short term, this will determine the type of ICT related interventions to be designed for teachers as part of the current education response to COVID-19. In the long term, the assessment’s recommendations will become the basis for the development of training materials for teachers on using ICT as a pedagogical tool in the COVID-19 era and beyond.

Gender Flagship

While all CapED’s interventions emphasize the empowerment of women and gender equality, with gender parity sought after in all trainings and targets and the gender lens applied to all content developed, the Programme also has interventions that specifically focus on the Global Coalition’s Gender Flagship.

For example, in Nepal, UNESCO carried out a situation analysis, which includes the possible short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on education, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST), the Center for Education and Human Resource Development (CEHRD) and Local Education Development Partners Group. Following this, the Programme is mapping and assessing available digital resources to identify existing content and measure its gender sensitivity and inclusiveness, as well as to what extent it aligns with the national curriculum. This will help clarify where the Government and development partners need to focus their efforts to fill gaps and not duplicate work. In addition, in collaboration with CEHRD, 100 radio lessons for grade 10 have been produced and are being broadcasted. To help ensure that both girls and boys participate in these remote lessons, CapED has developed communication materials to encourage equal participation between the genders.

In 2020, CapED will continue to support countries develop and implement their COVID-19 Education Response Plans and as the situation evolves, the Programme will remain agile and flexible in its approach in order best support Governments and institutions as they face rapidly changing education priorities.