Worldwide, 1.37 billion students in 138 countries are affected by the closure of their schools and universities by the coronavirus. This accounts for more than three in four children and young people worldwide, according to UNESCO figures. Nearly 60.2 million teachers are currently not in the classroom.
On Monday, UNESCO organized an online meeting with education ministers from eleven countries from different regions, who informed each other about the measures they are taking in their country to facilitate home education. These were ministers from France, Croatia, Iran, Peru, Nigeria, and Japan, among others.
At the start of the meeting, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay announced the creation of a global COVID-19 education coalition to pool the expertise of different partners.
After that, initiatives to reduce inequality were discussed, now that pupils have to take lessons at home. For example, Italy has earmarked EUR 85 million to enable distance learning for 8.5 million students and to improve connectivity in isolated areas.
The fact that distance learning has suddenly become the norm brings new challenges. French minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, therefore, advocated worldwide cooperation in regulating digital learning providers properly. Especially with a view to dealing with students’ personal data.
Several ministers emphasized that the current crisis also has an impact on the educational approach. “We have made more progress in digital and distance learning in the past ten days than in the past ten years. This crisis will undoubtedly change the way we think about education in the future,” said Egyptian Minister Tarek Shawki.