Recovering and Revitalizing Education for the COVID-19 Generation

Education must be re-thought to prepare the third world's youth.

Education is a basic human right, a public good, and a prerequisite critical in building responsible citizens. On this International Education Day, Jan. 24, Planet Aid reiterates its commitment to stand alongside national governments in delivering education to all, beginning in a big way with the spring 2021 launch of our Training Teachers and Changing Communities (TEACH) project in the Kinshasa Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to UNESCO 2020, by April of last year, 91 percent of students, approximately 1.6 billion, were out of school. The pandemic has laid bare the great need for education systems that are more resilient to crisis, inclusive, flexible, and sustainable. It has also shown the capacity of systems to innovate, expanding the frontiers of learning possibilities; the enterprise of teachers to ensure learning continuity; and highlighted the immense value education holds for learners, families, and communities. For example, Planet Aid's partner ADPP Mozambique opted to use radio and television broadcasting in delivering bilingual education to continue reaching thousands of early grade primary school children in Maputo and other provinces participating in Planet Aid's Food for Knowledge project.

Humana People to People India, another Planet Aid partner, is collaborating with Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission in Chhattisgarh State to safely bring education to students at home and in the village. Through building synergies and decentralizing access to education, Humana People to People India use their extensive experience when building the capacity of local teachers and volunteers to reach children disconnected from education.

Despite the many micro-level initiatives being pursued in remote communities, there is a need to bolster partnerships and actions to carry the shared responsibility in safeguarding education in the wake of COVID-19. It's critical for multi-lateral organizations and international development partners to support education in developing countries by:

  1. Taking every measure to reopen schools safely and inclusively;
  2. Supporting all teachers as frontline workers and prioritizing their training and professional development;
  3. Investing in skills development for inclusive recovery;
  4. Narrowing the digital divide that has prevented one-third of the world's students from accessing education during school closures;
  5. Protecting if not increasing education budgets; ensuring that stimulus packages support measures to mitigate learning losses and get the most vulnerable back to school; and increasing the volume, effectiveness, and predictability of aid to education.

We call upon the international community and the national governments to ensure that learning systems and structures are built back better to reflect the lived experiences of children around the world, particularly in fragile and disadvantaged regions.