How education systems can bounce back from Covid
Policy and research experts discuss ways to make investment in education work as well as possible, particularly for disadvantaged learners
A report by the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel (GEEAP), “Prioritising Learning During Covid,” has proposed ways for education systems across the globe to bounce back from Covid-19, reflect on the new global reality, and focus on important foundational skills.
The report was presented at a plenary session held in Pretoria, as part of a series of regional discussions, including East Africa and South Asia. Studies consulted by the GEEAP include examples of research from across Africa. The event brought together researchers and policymakers for a day of discussion on how to use the evidence we have about how children learn.
The independent expert panel, co-convened by the World Bank, Unicef and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), suggests that learning outcomes for children can be improved through four key areas: the identification of learning losses to target support; the provision of tailored catch-up programmes; the engagement of parents in children’s progress; and the enhanced use of technology.
Chris Austin, development director at the British High Commission, says the report draws on research and expertise to look at learning during and after Covid-19 and ensuring the learning needs of disadvantaged and marginalised learners are at the heart of the report.
“The event was about sharing recent evidence on how to make investment in education work as well as possible,” said Austin.
The event was convened by the FCDO’s education research team with a view to building availability and uptake of rigorous evidence to ensure education policies deliver stronger foundational learning for all children.
The department of basic education’s Stephen Taylor says disruptions to schooling had a severe impact on learning and the nutrition programme, which is extremely important for children.
“Keeping schools open is a crucial recommendation for many reasons. The magnitude of loss of learning is significant, but there is still so much potential for improving fundamental learning levels,” said Taylor.
“I hope Covid-19 refocuses our attention on what is essential for schooling and preventing future learning losses.”
Benjamin Piper, a member of the GEEAP, says the education sector faced challenges even before Covid-19.
“We knew that children being in school was not the same as learning in school. The purpose of the panel has been to try to identify the magnitude of the challenges and understand the equity dimensions involved,” said Piper.
“We then need to focus on sharing evidence and understanding how we can take solutions to scale to respond to those needs.”
This article was paid for by the British Council.