Cambridge Education, Mott MacDonald’s specialist education consultancy, has joined the UNESCO Global Education Coalition. In response to the school closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO launched the coalition to accelerate remote inclusive learning opportunities for children and youth during this period of sudden and unprecedented educational disruption.
Over 1.5 billion children and youth – 87% of the world’s student population – are affected by school closures due to COVID-19. Nationwide closures and shut-downs continue to be in force around the world, which means many learners are prevented from attending educational institutions. Countries are racing to fill the void with distance learning solutions but the uncertain duration of the closures resulting from the pandemic adds further complication to efforts. These range from hi-tech alternatives like real-time video classes conducted remotely to lower-tech options such as educational programming on radio and television.
Cambridge Education is working centrally and across its projects on a number of responses to the pandemic. In Uganda, this has entailed support to the Ministry of Education to rapidly generate lesson content for transmission through radio and SMS, including support for parents. In Ghana, Cambridge Education is ensuring that remote e-learning is inclusive for hearing and visually impaired students, through braille materials, providing smartphones, and making text-to-speech converters available. In Sierra Leone, lessons have been adapted for delivery on the radio, as well as direct support offered to teachers through a combination of tablet and phone-based content. In South Sudan, the Cambridge Education managed Girls’ Education South Sudan programme is working with 31 radio stations to transmit lessons and generating solutions for the 43% of the student population without radio access.
Andy Brock, Cambridge Education’s managing director of international education, said: “Across Africa and Asia we are currently supporting Ministries of Education to reach children through radio, TV, print and digital, to keep them safe and to keep them learning. We are excited to join the Global Education Coalition to help shape practical solutions, support sector-wide thinking and build back education systems better than before.”
“Combining our extensive in-country experience with the expertise of other Coalition partners will result in faster, more realistic and more sustainable answers to the challenges faced in every country.” Andy continues.