For two whole years, the Covid-19 health crisis has disrupted education systems around the world and forced school closures that have impacted hundreds of millions of children. All suffered learning losses. Some, however, suffered more than others.
In developed countries, home access to cheap and reliable computers and broadband has enabled students to make the transition to online learning. School closures have been painful, but technology has softened the impact. In some cases, African leaders have also been able to do much to replicate classroom teaching.
But for many African children, access to technology is limited. Many have also found their schools closed for the longest periods. Schools in Uganda did not reopen until early 2022, although schools in Liberia took a shorter break for closures. Recent evidence suggests that learning losses resulting from the pandemic have been even worse than expected. According to the World Bank for Education, ‘learning poverty’ – defined as a child unable to read or understand simple text at the age of 10 – is expected to rise by 70% in the Global South as a result. .
Such learning loss would be a disaster anywhere. But on a continent where so many children were already failing – with up to 90% of 10-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa living in learning poverty even before the pandemic – this is potentially catastrophic.
Today’s United Nations International Day of Education takes place under the theme ‘Changing Course, Transforming Education’ – a recognition that the impact of the covid pandemic necessitates a radical education reset .
“In these exceptional times, the status quo is no longer an option. If we want to transform the future, if we want to change course, we must rethink education,” explains Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, l United Nations education agency.
Together with UNESCO and UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, the World Bank charted a course to rebuild education in 2022, in a landmark report on the state of education in global scale. “The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery” clearly indicates what to do.
He begins by pointing out the lack of data on education.
“To address the learning crisis, countries must first address the learning data crisis,” he says.
According to the Global Partnership for Education, only 20 of GPE’s 61 partner countries – low-income countries it supports to improve learning outcomes – report at least 10 of the 12 key education outcomes.
Without this data, it is simply impossible to know how well children are learning.
AT Liberia Bridge, we know that learning is a science. The government school program we support is based on data collection and analysis.
In Liberia, schools supported by Bridge Liberia are monitored in real time by a digital, data-driven electronic dashboard that displays data from the 350 primary schools in the program.
The World Bank report also calls for prioritizing “evidence-based strategies, proven techniques to promote foundational learning”
This is precisely the approach taken by the Liberian government, which has announced more than doubling of its LEAP education advancement program, which will now cover 130,000 students in more than 500 primary schools – precisely because it runs it. for six years. has proven itself. Children under LEAP have gained at least one additional year of learning. In schools supported by Bridge Liberia, the largest partner with 350 schools and part of NewGlobe, learning gains are equivalent to 2.5 years.
The same report also calls for a range of other urgent improvements in education systems to recover from covid learning losses. This underscores the need to extend lesson time for children, to target teaching, so that learning is tailored to each child, and to make greater use of structured pedagogy – in essence, a more scientific approach to learning. education.
These approaches are at the heart of the learning program in schools supported by Bridge Liberia – precisely because they have been repeatedly shown to improve learning outcomes. Our structured pedagogical The approach is based on decades of research and application. The results speak for themselves.
At NewGlobe, we believe that improving the well-being and professional development of teachers is essential to the resumption of education. Our data-driven approach provides teachers, school leaders and staff with tools to learn and develop their skills.
Each teacher receives tailor-made training. Prior to the opening of schools for the 2021/2022 school year, Bridge Liberia collaborated with the Ministry of Education and trained more than 1,500 public school teachers.
This training is followed by an ongoing personal development program. Learning and Development Coaches conduct live lesson observations and use them to provide teachers with practical insights on how to make their lessons even more impactful. It’s an endless cycle of learning about learning.
The World Bank estimates that the learning losses caused by the covid pandemic are the biggest global education crisis in a century. It is increasingly recognized that to recover these losses and ensure that children really learn, it is essential to change education systems. They must be driven by data, focus on results, and apply what works.
Sources:● https://newglobe.education/● https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/global-education-crisis-even-more-severe-previously-estimated?CID=WBW_AL_BlogNotification_EN_EXT● https://www.devex.com/news/as-schools-reopen-experts-call-for-plans-to-actually-teach-kids-102242● https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/lessons-education-sector-covid-19-pandemic?CID=WBW_AL_BlogNotification_EN_EXT