Policy brief on distance and hybrid learning released for Afghan’s education

UNESCO has published a policy brief that focusses on distance learning and hybrid learning following the framework of the UNESCO – McKinsey Covid-19 response toolkit. The policy brief draws on the literature regarding the education response to Covid-19 and discussions with colleagues from different directorates (policy and planning, academic supervision, primary and secondary education, teacher education and ICT in Education) of the Ministry of Education (MoE), development partners and the Education in Emergency Working Group (EiE WG) at a thematic workshop on hybrid learning/remote learning strategies in January 2021. The workshop was organized within the framework of the Covid-19 response project under the Capacity Development for Education (CapED) programme.

 

In every crisis lies the seed of opportunity. This policy brief sheds light on seeking development opportunities out of the Covid-19 crisis. It provides recommendations to forge a more flexible, resilient and accessible education system through reinforcing distance learning and hybrid learning systems in times of Covid-19 and beyond in Afghanistan. It also resonates with the national agenda on using technologies for more accessible education articulated in the draft National Education Strategic Plan IV and the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework II. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan shared a vision for further digitalization in the country in his recent meeting with education stakeholders in March 2021.

The actionable recommendations are offered to guide the MoE, partners and stakeholders in rethinking distance learning and hybrid learning in building back better. The recommendations are by no means exhaustive but aim to fuel further discussions and accelerate actions in building back better in the education recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The recommendations are structured around the three-step approach recommended in the UNESCO – McKinsey Covid-19 response toolkit. ‘Monitor and Adjust’ is considered a step in parallel with the other three steps.

A list of actionable recommendations are as follows:

Understand and Envision

1: Conduct a national study of the effectiveness of the alternative learning programmes and school reopening to have solid evidence for building back better at the recovery stage.

2: Reinforce the coordination among all stakeholders during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

3: Envision strengthened distance learning and hybrid learning to support a truly resilient, flexible and accessible education system.

Decide and Design

4: Develop the longer-term strategy and programme to normalize and formalize the use/piloting of distance learning and hybrid learning.

5: Emphasize the importance of distance learning and raise public awareness of the benefits of distance learning.

6: Assess and enhance system capacity to enable the delivery of quality distance learning and hybrid learning.

Enable and Execute

7: Design and scale up distance learning/hybrid learning practices that are deeply rooted in local contexts with the hybrid use of technologies.

8: Train and recruit more qualified teachers with ICT competency to facilitate distance learning/hybrid learning.

9: Assure the quality of distance learning materials with minimum standards and digitize and/or digitalize essential curricular resources including textbooks for distance learning.

10: Determine the allocation of hybrid learning by grade and student type and adjust the allocation according to the epidemic situation.

11: Determine the subjects and learning activities split across learning modalities by local education authorities.

12: Protect government budget for education and identify partnership opportunities to shore up the strengthening of distance learning and hybrid learning systems.

Monitor and Adjust

13: Develop and monitor key indicators of the preparedness, learning processes and outcomes of distance learning and hybrid learning through an upgraded M&E mechanism.

14: Set up an adjustment mechanism to continuously adapt distance/hybrid learning strategy to emerging needs.

The policy brief is available in EnglishDari and Pashto in Open Access under the Creative Commons ByAttribution ShareAlike 3.0 IGO (CC BY SA 3.0 IGO)

The Covid-19 response project under the CapED programme in Afghanistan contributes to evidence-based policy-making and planning for school reopening, long-term reform and resilience-building during Covid-19 and beyond. Besides the organization of workshop series on Covid-19 response and the follow-on outputs of policy briefs, the project supports a national study to investigate the effectiveness of alternative learning and school reopening across provinces. A tripartite partnership among UNESCO, the MoE and the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) campaigns for the right to education and getting girls back to school.

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