‘Bold Steps’ Required to Transform Education During COVID-19 and Beyond

art-350-01Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond aims to guide governments and other stakeholders in mitigating the potentially devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on education

With an estimation by the United Nations (UN) that more than one billion students worldwide are being affected by COVID-19 (as of mid-July 2020), a recently released UN policy brief outlines ‘bold steps’ needed for education in the face of disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in launching Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond (https://unsdg.un.org/resources/policy-brief-education-during-covid-19-and-beyond) on 4 July 2020.

Stressing that decisions by governments and other stakeholders related to education would have a long-term impact on young people and countries’ socio-economic development, he described four key areas in the Policy Brief that should be taken into account when implementing education initiatives.

The first calls for the reopening of schools once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, with a series of guidance issued to assist governments in achieving this effort.

The second is prioritising education in financing decisions, in which education budgets must be protected and increased to ensure that education can be the focal point of international solidarity efforts, such as debt management, stimulus packages, global humanitarian appeals and official development assistance (ODA).

The third is reaching out to those at greatest risk of being left behind, including people in emergencies and crises, minority groups of all kinds, displaced people and those with disabilities.

The fourth is reimagining education as a “generational opportunity” by incorporating forward-looking systems capable of delivering quality education for all as a launchpad for the Sustainable Development Goals.

This should involve investing in digital literacy and infrastructure, evolving towards learning how to learn, rejuvenating lifelong learning, and strengthening links between formal and non-formal education.

Additionally, education initiatives should take advantage of flexible delivery methods, digital technologies and modernised curricula while ensuring sustained support for teachers and communities.

“As the world faces unsustainable levels of inequality, we need education — the great equaliser — more than ever.  We must take bold steps now, to create inclusive, resilient, quality education systems fit for the future,” said Mr Guterres.


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