New York/Washington D.c — The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) announced today a US $8.8 million contribution to UNICEF to help children and young people in 87 developing countries access learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nationwide school closures in 156 countries have already disrupted learning and access to vital services for more than eight out of ten children and young people.
"There is an urgent need to invest now in education systems to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in developing countries. These funds are an initial step to kick-start governments' efforts to keep students safe and ensure they can keep learning, including by supporting teachers and schools," said Alice Albright, GPE's Chief Executive Officer.
To ensure resources are quickly available to the countries that need them most, GPE has partnered with UNICEF to implement the grant. The funds will help governments and local education partners reduce the impact of COVID-19 on children's education by ensuring the continuity of learning and supporting safe practices in schools.
These funds will support children's many needs at this challenging time. From preparing alternative learning programs, to providing vital information on handwashing and other measures to keep them safe, to counselling to support their mental health, to programming to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus, this generous contribution will go a long way towards helping children and young people continue their education.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has upended children's lives in unprecedented ways," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. "Hundreds of millions of children will have to spend weeks and months away from their classrooms. We know from experience that the longer vulnerable children stay away from school, the less likely they are to return. It is critical to give them alternative ways to learn and rebuild a routine. If we act now, we can take the necessary steps to safeguard their future while protecting their present."
Governments in 87 eligible countries will start receiving education funds from 30 March to support education systems' response to COVID-19. The funds will help scale up response planning, communication around safe school operations and sharing knowledge and building capacity.
The funds represent a first step in GPE's mobilization to provide financial support to its partner countries to cope with impacts that disruptions to education will have on children. UNICEF will also provide US $4 million of resources to reach an additional 58 countries.