UNICEF has said it will significantly scale up support in all countries to help children continue their learning as large-scale school closures make face-to-face education in classrooms unavailable for over 80 per cent of students worldwide.
“Like in many parts of the world, schools in Bangladesh had to be closed to minimise the risk of infection for children and school employees in this unprecedented situation. We need to think hard and collectively act now to continue different types of learning in the home environment to reduce the negative impact of the current situation on children and society as a whole,” UNB quoted Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF country representative in Bangladesh, as saying.
Hozumi said based on lessons learned from other emergencies, the longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return. Giving children alternative ways to learn must be a critical part of our response to COVID-19 in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, UNICEF is supporting the ministry of primary and mass education and the ministry of education to help children’s learning continue while they are at home during school closure due to COVID-19, said a media release on Friday.
UNICEF will work with the government to help implement effective distance or remote learning programmes using TV, radio, mobile phone and Internet platforms to reach the maximum number of students.
The initiative will make the learning interactive, will engage parents and learners, monitor engagement and will ensure assessment of learning.
UNICEF has started to work with a2i (Access to Information) under the ICT Division of the government to help develop and implement the first component of the education continuity plan.
This will help ensure access to learning through televised recorded classes for children in both primary and secondary levels, using Parliament Television.
A key component of the partnership will be to provide information to parents and caregivers on how to support and engage with their children’s learning.
Given the risks involved when schools are closed, UNICEF and partners will also work with the government to ensure that schools are ready to receive children when they re-open and those children return to school.
In all 145 countries, UNICEF will work with partners to support governments’ crisis response plans including technical assistance, rapid risk analysis, data collection, and planning for the reopening of schools.
It will support the planning and implementation of safe school operation and risk communication including translating, printing, disseminating and implementing safe school guidelines; equipping schools with hygiene packages and circulating critical information on disease prevention; and training teachers and caregivers in psychosocial and mental health support for themselves and students.
UNICEF will ensure continuity of learning and access to remote learning programmes including designing and preparing alternative education programmes through online, radio and television an enhance knowledge sharing and capacity building for the current response and future pandemics.
Earlier this month, UNICEF, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, released operational guidance on protecting children and schools from COVID-19.