The COVID-19 crisis threatens decades of progress made towards gender equality, putting over 11 million girls at risk of not returning to school! To safeguard progress made on girls’ education, ensure girls’ learning continuity during school closures, and promote girls’ safe return to schools once these reopen, UNESCO and members of the Global Education Coalition’s Gender Flagship scale up efforts in the #LearningNeverStops campaign, focusing on ‘keeping girls in the picture’.
1. Campaign overview
1.1 Keeping girls in the picture
Every girl has the right to a quality education.
Yet, around the world,130 million were out of school before COVID-19.
Now, the pandemic threatens to halt the education of more than 11 million girls.
If there are fewer girls in the classroom, it will mean fewer women who can make valuable social and economic contributions to their communities later on.
If girls lose out, we all lose out. We must ‘keep girls in the picture’ – we must make sure that all girls are learning and that #LearningNeverStops
1.2 Education in the COVID-19 era
Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many girls, continuing to learn while schools are closed depends on access to the internet and mobile phones, as well as having digital skills.
At the peak of the school closure period in April 2020, over 90% of the global student population was affected in 200 countries. That’s over 1.5 billion learners, including more than 760 million girls.
64% of low income countries used radio to support continuity of learning for primary education, compared to 42% of upper middle income countries.
74% of lower middle income countries used television programmes to support continuity of learning for primary education, compared to 36% of low income countries.
About 40% of low and lower middle income countries have not taken any measures to support learners at risk of exclusion during the COVID-19 crisis.
Children and youth living in poor and remote areas, with disabilities, or from linguistic minorities are most affected.
Low and middle income countries are at a far more disadvantaged starting point for an effective transition to online learning platforms. In least developed countries, only 52% of the population has access to electricity.
At country level, the proportion of the population with access to electricity is only 12% in Chad, 14% in Burkina Faso, 18% in Niger, 19% in DRC, and 26% in Liberia.
Online learning platforms were used for primary and secondary education in about 55% of low income, 73% of lower middle income and 93% of upper middle income countries.
The share of households with internet access at home was 47% in developing countries and 12% in the least developed countries in 2019, compared with 87% in developed countries.
Lessons from the past – such as with Ebola – have shown that health crises can leave many behind, in particular the poorest girls, many of whom may not return to school.