Global Partners’ Meeting of the Teachers/Teaching and Learning Cluster of the Education Response to COVID-19 coordinated by UNESCO Nairobi/IICBA/IITE, 28 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a world-wide school and university closure affecting over 1.5 billion learners and 63 million teachers of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. This situation has led to countries looking for alternative forms of delivering education in order to make sure that learning continues. The obvious and only option in the current situation is the use of distance and online platforms to reach the large number of learners who are compelled to stay at home.

In order to support countries in the provision of education through distance and online platforms, UNESCO has mobilised UN agencies, IT companies, and distance education, telecom and Internet service providers into a Global Coalition for Education.

Within this context, the UNESCO Nairobi Office, the International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA), and the International Institute for Technology in Education (IITE) reached out to partners to bring them together and support African countries in the provision of education through distance and online modes of delivery.

There have been a series of virtual meetings of partners to realise this goal and one such meeting took place on 28 April 2020. The meeting brought together over 100 participants and was opened by the remarks of Ms. Stephania Giannini, the UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education. Other dignitaries who attended the meeting included Mr. Firmin Matoko, UNESCO Assistant Director General, External Relations and Africa, Directors of the UNESCO Regional offices in Africa, and the Directors of IICBA and IITE. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta and co-chaired by Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of IITE.

Ms. Giannini appreciated the interest and commitment of the various partners that are providing much-needed support to African countries in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted the challenges the global community is confronted with and the need to pool expertise and resources to meet the challenge.

Mr. Matoko on his part, commended the partners and UNESCO entities that have brought them together to deliberate on a very important issue of making sure learning continues despite the closure of schools and other educational institutions.

The meeting continued for two and half hours and partners disclosed the support they can provide in the form of digital tools, online content and various delivery mechanisms.

As next steps, the meeting decided to go down to country level identification of needs and provision of tangible support as quickly as possible. It also resolved that everything should be done to leave no one behind and to target vulnerable groups and rural populations where connectivity and Internet service are a big challenge