UNESCO’s COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response
Half of world’s student population not attending school: UNESCO launches global coalition to accelerate deployment of remote learning solutions.
As of late Tuesday, over 850 million children and youth – roughly half of the world’s student population – had to stay away from schools and universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide closures are in force in 102 countries and local shut-downs in 11 others. This represents more than a doubling in the number of learners prevented from attending educational institutions, with further increases expected.
The scale and speed of the school and university closures represents an unprecedented challenge for the education sector. Countries around the world are racing to fill the void with distance learning solutions but the uncertain duration of the closures adds further complication to their efforts. These range from hi-tech alternatives like real-time video classes conducted remotely to lower-tech options such as educational programming on radio and television.
As an immediate response to massive school closures, UNESCO has established a COVID-19 task force to provide advice and technical assistance to governments working to provision education to students out of school. The Organization is also holding regular virtual meetings with education ministers from all over the world to share experiences and assess priority needs.
UNESCO is also launching a Global COVID-19 Education Coalition that brings together multilateral partners and the private sector, including Microsoft and the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), to help countries deploy remote learning systems so as to minimize educational disruptions and maintain social contact with learners.
UNESCO’s regular updates the impact of COVID-19 on education
Distance learning solutions
Below is a list of educational applications and platforms to help parents, teachers, schools and school systems facilitate student learning and provide social caring and interaction during periods of school closure. While these solutions do not carry UNESCO’s explicit endorsement, they tend to have wide reach, a strong user-base and evidence of impact. Most of the solutions are free and several support multiple languages.