Determined to ensure children from Nigeria and 46 other developing countries continue to learn despite the coronavirus-related school closures, Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has approved grants totalling US$381 million to support a range of learning activities.
A further $20 million is being provided to a joint initiative managed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, that will ensure regional and global efficiencies and knowledge sharing.
A breakdown of the $400 million (N155,236,000,000) shows that Nigeria received US$15 million (N5.82bn) in COVID-19 grant funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to a statement made available to BusinessDay, no fewer than 720 million students are still out of school in developing countries, where the combined impacts of school closures and economic hardship due to the coronavirus threaten to reverse decades of hard-won gains in education.
Girls are especially at risk, as they are more likely to have to take on household chores alongside remote learning. When girls are out of school, they are also more vulnerable to gender-based violence, early marriage and teenage pregnancy.
Figures from UNESCO indicates that Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy has over 13.2 million out-of-school children, the highest in the world.
“There is a real risk that millions of the most vulnerable children, especially girls, will never set foot in a classroom again,” said Alice Albright, GPE chief executive officer. “GPE is committed to ensuring that no child’s education is left behind because of COVID-19. Our emergency funds are helping partner countries keep children engaged in learning and make sure they can return when schools reopen.”
Developing country governments are using GPE funds to improve access to remote learning, support the safe reopening of schools and strengthen the resilience of the education sector to respond to future emergencies.
Remote learning solutions being applied in GPE partner countries vary widely, but three quarters rely on radio, television and print materials. These approaches ensure that the most marginalised children those without access to internet connectivity or even electricity aren’t falling too far behind.
GPE works with partner countries to ensure that grants focus heavily on the most marginalised children, for example by providing materials adapted to children with learning disorders or disabilities.
“It’s essential that distance learning programmes are reaching the poorest and most marginalised girls and boys and are not just accessible to the rich and able,” said Serigne Mbaye Thiam, GPE vice board chair. “GPE’s emergency funding ensures that countries get technical and financial support to sustain learning for all their children.”
Following the launch of GPE’s COVID-19 fund on April 1st, 51 countries have applied for an initial amount of $537 million in emergency grants. In response to the high demand, GPE increased its COVID-19 funding window to $500 million in June. An additional 16 countries are expected to apply for $51 million in the coming months.