Katharina Cavano l Palladium - Dec 07 2020
Palladium Contributes to Briefing Paper on COVID-19 Education Emergency

Photo Credit: Taylor Wilcox

As members of British Expertise International’s Education Working Group, Palladium contributed to the recently published briefing paper Recover Learning, Rebuild Education which provides a response framework that outlines the education impacts and the interventions needed to address the crisis.

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold across industries globally, one thing remains clear; there is a need to build back better and create more resilience in preparation for future crises. This challenge is abundantly clear in education where the pandemic is reinforcing pre-existing inequalities, and creating new ones.

Over a billion young people have been affected by school closures across the world, with teachers struggling to access the resources needed to support remote learning. “Learning loss” (the loss of knowledge or skills when there’s a gap in a student’s education) is only the most obvious negative impact. Closures are also leading to poor nutrition for those who relied on school feeding programs, increased exposure to violence and exploitation, and social isolation.

“We have seen throughout this pandemic that schools are not only places where students learn, but places where there is social protection, nutrition, health, and a social-first relationship with the rest of the world outside the family,” explains Priyanka Devani, Education Director at Palladium.

The pandemic has also exposed the digital divide. Two-thirds of the world’s school-age children don’t have internet at home and students from the poorest households, rural and lower-income states are falling further behind their peers.

These inequalities threaten to extend beyond this generation of students and erase decades of progress, including for girls and young women. Studies are estimating that 20 million secondary school-aged girls may never return to the classroom after the pandemic.

“Time is of the Essence”

To address this educational emergency, British Expertise International’s (BEI) Education Working Group (EWG) published the briefing paper, Recover Learning, Rebuild Education, outlining sustainable and systemic interventions.

The briefing paper is intended for UK and international policymakers and supporting agencies, and includes both the unique views of the EWG members working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 education crisis and recommendations for implementation.

BEI highlights that time is of the essence in addressing the ‘lost-learning’ crisis. “Now systems are beginning to reopen, and we have entered a critical period to ensure not just that schools can begin to function, but that all learners return to school and differential learning loss is addressed.”

Devani believes that Palladium’s extensive experience in the sector has lent itself to both responding to the crisis and contributing to the paper. “We need to leverage local networks and volunteers, and coordinate with other sectors to support students at the household and community levels,” she explains. “We have been working hand in hand with educators, policymakers, local communities, NGOs and beyond to come up with innovative solutions to help schools adjust to remote learning, particularly to bring some continuity for disadvantaged students.”

“We’re developing continuity plans and programs for when schools reopen as well as longer-term support to governments in building more equitable and resilient post-pandemic education systems that enable children to learn continuously both in schools and at home, ensuring that no one is left behind,” she adds.

COVID-19 is more than a health crisis and there is a critical need for a collaborative effort across governments, organisations, and the private sector to solve this pressing international problem. “The paper shows that there’s a need to work in partnership with other organisations, to share knowledge and resources and truly address the impacts of learning losses for students around the world,” says Devani.

The collaboration and knowledge sharing seen in Recover Learning, Rebuild Education indicates that there’s hope for building back better and coming together to solve this crisis.

Download BEI’s briefing paper. For more information contact info@thepalladiumgroup.com.