COVID-19 poised to set aid to education back by six years

Screenshot 2020-07-09 at 10.20.43A new GEM Report policy paper released today shows that total aid to education reached its highest ever levels in 2018, the latest available year. However, it estimates that global aid is likely to decline by up to US$2 billion from 2018 to 2022 as a result of recession caused by COVID-19, entailing a 12% drop in international support for education.

This means that without new measures, aid to education would only reach 2018 levels in 2024, which poses a serious threat to the recovery of education from the unprecedented disruption caused by the pandemic.

The lost learning as a result of COVID-19 means aid to education will be more important than ever before. The paper, COVID-19 is a serious threat to aid to education recovery,  calls for donors to provide flexible funding so that support to the sector can be realigned and help countries get back on track.

Prior to the pandemic

Aid to education in 2018 reached a record US$15.6 billion, an increase of 9% from the previous year. From one year to the next, aid rose by 6% for basic education, 7% for secondary education and 12% for post-secondary education, providing each with the highest amount of aid ever recorded.

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A new comparable learning assessment designed in the Global South, For the Global South: Exploring the ICAN 2019 Findings

By Ketan Verma, PAL Network and Hannah-May Wilson, Education Partnerships Group

Ambika’s house was built with red bricks and a corrugated steel roof and had spectacularly clear views of the Himalayas. We visited her village to understand whether children went to school and what they were learning. Ambika had two children, Ayush (10) and his little sister Anu (8). They were in Grade 6 and Grade 4. As we sat on Ambika’s porch, parents from neighbouring houses wandered over. We showed Ambika and the other parents the simple numeracy assessment we had brought for the children. One parent, Yam, looked at the test and said, “This test is too simple”. Ambika agreed: “I have seen similar tasks in Anu’s school textbook when she was much younger”. Yam, Ambika and the other parents were sure their children would be able to do these simple tasks, since their children had been going to school for several years.

2020_PAL Network_ICAN launch_Nepal

Credit: Muhammad Usman, PAL Network

Introducing ICAN

The simple assessment that we showed Ambika and the other parents is the PAL Network’s new International Common Assessment of Numeracy, “ICAN”. ICAN is an open-source, easy-to-use assessment tool that is currently available in 11 languages. Just like the traditional citizen-led assessments (CLAs) conducted by PAL Network member organisations over the last 15 years, ICAN is administered orally, one-to-one so as to include all children, irrespective of their ability to read. It is carried out in households, and the results therefore show learning levels across all children, whether they are in school or not. Continue reading

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How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting contract teachers in sub-Saharan Africa

By Peter Wallet, Teacher Task Force and Pierre Varly, Consultant

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on education systems. At its height, 194 countries had implemented country-wide school closures, affecting 63 million primary and secondary teachers. Sub-Saharan Africa has not been spared during this crisis, witnessing country-wide closures affecting some 6.4 million teachers.

Screenshot 2020-07-09 at 19.01.57To shed light on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on contract teachers in sub-Saharan Africa, the Teacher Task Force conducted desk research and numerous interviews with representatives of ministries, trade union and UNESCO National Commissions. The research is supplemented by data collected through the joint UNESCO/UNICEF/World Bank Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures.

 The Teacher Task Force is also publishing a Review on the use of contract teachers in sub-Saharan Africa, which takes a closer look at the situation of contract teachers in 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Closures have had consequences for all teachers. However, for contract teachers the negative effects have been greater. Contract teachers are those recruited through alternative pathways and working outside traditional employment arrangements supported by a civil service collective agreement.

Contract teachers receive a salary for the work they perform but do not receive the benefits that apply under public sector norms and standards, such as annual leave, pension or health insurance.  As a result of their status, contract teachers typically receive lower remuneration and have less job stability, as their employment is subject to public budget fluctuations, market pressures and education providers’ ability to pay. Continue reading

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All teachers should be prepared to teach all students

Tomorrow, the GEM Report, the Teachers Task Force at UNESCO and Education International are co-hosting an event on teachers and teaching for inclusion. Inclusion cannot be realized unless teachers are agents of change, with values, knowledge and attitudes that permit every student to succeed.  Below are some of the core points to have come out of the 2020 GEM Report on teaching for inclusion that will be the focus of the event.

Inclusive teaching adapts to student strengths and needs. It requires teachers to be able to recognise the experiences and abilities of every student and to be open to diversity. They need to be aware that all students learn by connecting classroom with life experiences, and thus embed new ideas and skills in problem-solving activities. While many teacher education and professional learning opportunities are designed accordingly, entrenched views of some students as deficient, unable to learn or incapable mean that teachers sometimes struggle to see that each student’s learning capacity is open-ended.

Cartoon 4 - Inclusive learning - Colours

Teachers may simply not believe that inclusion is possible and desirable. Teachers’ attitudes often mix commitment to the principle of inclusion with doubts about their preparedness and the readiness of the education system is to support them. In Lebanon, teachers did not believe all students with disabilities could be successfully included, for example. In 43 mostly upper middle and high income countries, one in three teachers reported that they did not adjust their teaching to students’ cultural diversity. Continue reading

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Global Citizenship Education after the COVID-19 crisis?

By Marta Estellés, University of Cantabria, Spain and Gustavo E. Fischman, Arizona State University, USA

During the COVID-19 crisis, educational responses have been mainly geared towards minimizing the problems derived from school closures and mantaining educational services. While it is understandable to desire the certainity that normality provides, we believe that returning to the pre-existing educational models may not be desirable for the great majority of teachers, students and families. As graffittied on many Hong Kong walls, “We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.”


Image: Mikhail Brentnol

In educational terms, the COVID-19 pandemic implies much more than a disruption to normal schooling that can be solved by the rapid deployment of pedagogical interventions such as digital learning models, alternative scheduling and physical distancing in classrooms and schoolyards. Granted, these were interventions in a time of crisis that may have helped to mitigate the historically unprecedented suspension of schooling for almost 1.6 billion students worldwide. However, they shouldn’t prevent us from ignoring the pre-COVID-19 negligence of most education systems to promote empathy and to encourage democratic forms of engagement and collaboration among citizens and governments from other regions of the world.

In this context, it would not be surprising if various educators, policy makers and scholars in the broad field of global education soon start to demand more Global Citizenship Education to address the pedagogical shortcomings revealed by the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, some have already started. Yet, we wonder: can Global Citizenship Education models provide an adequate response to the COVID-19 crisis? Continue reading

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Emiliano Naranjo: a teacher with a disability fighting for fairer societies in Argentina

Emiliano was born with cerebral palsy and battled against multiple odds, discrimination and stigmatism, fighting all the way to the courts to be where he is today: a university professor of physical education, an advisor to the province of Buenos Aires and a consultant in the private sector.

From the time he was a child, Emiliano relied on sports to cope with his physical condition, but he did not discover his vocation for teaching until one day, while swimming in a pool, the mother of a child with physical disabilities asked him to teach her son to swim. It was at that moment that Emiliano realised that he could combine his dedication to sports with his passion for teaching.

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We need to talk about racism in schools

The fault lines are open and fractions are rising in the United States. Inequalities, which have always been there, are now fully exposed because of COVID-19, including its effect on marginalized communities. The death of George Floyd shined the spotlight even brighter on the racial inequality and segregation embedded in this country’s education system.

Image: waferboard

Ongoing discrimination, alienation and segregation in schools promote exclusion in education and damages the opportunity to build more inclusive attitudes among members of the population. It’s time for this to stop.

Read more on The Hill

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Your Questions Answered – pose your questions live to the authors of the 2020 GEM Report

2020_GEMR_Inclusion_ENLaunched on 23 June, the 2020 GEM Report on inclusion and education draws on the latest available data, evidence, and commissioned research from leading experts around the world.  The Report benefits from a 18-month production cycle and is authored by an international team of researchers based in UNESCO, under the leadership of the Report’s director. Today, in our Any Questions Answered session hosted on this blog in the comments section, you can ask what you will to the team and we will endeavour to respond.

Our aim in writing the 2020 GEM Report, All means all, was to provide up to date policy analysis, recommendations and a call to action for all educators to widen their understanding of inclusive education to include all learners, no matter their identity, background or ability.

So, did we succeed in our aims? Were you surprised by the Report’s findings and recommendations? Are you intrigued by how we arrived at some of the Report’s top line figures? Do the Report’s findings reflect your own experiences and research on inclusion and education? Continue reading

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Jean-Paul Gaultier, Hillary Clinton, Shakira, Pele, Yalitza Aparicio and others join in calling for more inclusive education

High-profile influencers from around the world joined the GEM Report in calling for more inclusive education systems. The 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report showed that exclusion in education had deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, about  40% of low and lower-middle income countries had not supported disadvantaged learners during school shutdowns. Celebrities, all with strong personal reasons for giving their support, joined the Report’s calls for countries to focus on those left behind, as schools reopen after the COVID-19 shut-downs.

Colombian superstar Shakira tweeted:

Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton tweeted:

“Those of you who know me well, know I care deeply about the education of our youth. But this education is not always easy to access, and this is why I became a UNESCO ambassador. Even before schools shut due to the virus, many were already left without access to proper education. So I am asking you to read and share the GEM Report from UNESCO, which calls for schools to be more inclusive after this global shutdown,” said football legend, Pele. Continue reading

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Introducing a new online tool: Profiles Enhancing Reviews in Education (PEER)

FN PEER HORIZONTAL Background RGBYesterday, along with the launch of the 2020 GEM Report on inclusion and education, we also launched a new website, PEER, to support the monitoring of national education laws and policies. It provides systematic, comprehensive information on laws and policies for every country in the world and is meant to support policy dialogue and peer learning.

The first set of country profiles cover inclusion and education, the theme of the 2020 GEM Report. Thanks to the work the team did coding the information obtained from laws, policies, strategies and plans, new indicators on inclusion and education fed into the 2020 GEM Report.

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PEER is the third online tool the GEM Report has produced as new global public goods in education, along with:

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