The G20 takes a closer look a blended learning and educational poverty

A new report by the Group of Twenty (G20) Education Working group highlights the challenges for countries in implementing blended learning and tackling educational poverty. UNESCO contributed expertise, data and analysis towards the research, which also calls for strengthened collaboration among the G20 governments.

Published last week, the “Report on blended education and educational poverty” draws on surveys conducted by the Italian Presidency of the G20 and shares promising practices for blended education and accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Transforming education models

While policies around school closures have varied, many of the G20 countries have been able to ensure educational continuity since the onset of the pandemic through remote teaching and learning. In particular, blended education which relies on a combination of in-school and remote teaching and learning has emerged as a common model across education levels.

Throughout the pandemic, a wide range of technologies have been used to deliver distance education – almost 80 per cent of G20 countries provided free or subsidized devices, and the same proportion has provided free or subsidized internet access. The survey findings also show that many of the countries have adopted measures targeting disadvantaged children and youth, including tailored teaching or learning materials, improved infrastructure, and flexible platforms.

Tackling education poverty

But the report calls on the G20 governments to do more than improve connectivity and train teachers — the root causes of education poverty must also be addressed. Even before the pandemic, just 62 per cent of young people in the G20 countries were completing their secondary education, according to UNESCO. There are also wide disparities observed within countries, depending on gender, income, location, or ethnicity. The lockdowns and closures of economic activities since March 2020 have only exacerbated existing economic hardships and some students from disadvantaged backgrounds were less likely to have the resources at home to make the most of online learning.

The survey documented a number of policies and programmes by G20 countries which can be scaled up to address education poverty. These focus on prevention measures to tackle the problems that result in early school leaving, interventions to improve the quality of education and training for students including targeted support for certain groups, and compensation measures which help those who have left education and training prematurely to gain qualifications.

Collaboration is key to achieve SDG4

While schools have now reopened in a majority of G20 countries, a deterioration in the health situation leading to a continuation of ongoing or new school closures cannot be ruled out. To reduce the disruption of future school closures and get SDG 4 back on track, the report calls for strengthened collaboration between different levels of government to share best practices, tools and outcomes of monitoring and evaluation systems for evidence-based decision-making and policy choices.

Further collaboration and dialogue are also needed to reimagine educational models and ways of tackling education poverty – by encouraging the use of blended teaching and learning, the pandemic has already provided an opportunity to rethink pedagogical approaches, assessment and curriculum. Finally, the report urges the G20 governments to contribute to international cooperation and the Education 2030 agenda. Progress already made in these countries can provide a knowledge base for tackling the impact of COVID-19 and can be scaled up to help other countries adapt their education systems to digitized economies.

 

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