A report by the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel (GEEAP) – Prioritizing Learning During Covid – has proposed ways for education systems across the globe to bounce back from COVID, to reflect the new global reality and focus on important foundational skills.

The independent expert Panel, co-convened by the World Bank, UNICEF and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, suggests that learning outcomes for children can be improved through four key areas: the identification of learning losses to target support; the provision of tailored catch-up programmes; the engagement of parents in children’s progress; and the enhanced use of technology.

Studies consulted by the GEEAP include examples of research from across Africa. The report was presented at a plenary session held in Pretoria, as part of a series of regional discussions including in East Africa and South Asia.  Monday’s event brought together researchers and policymakers for a day of discussion on how to use the evidence we have about how children learn.

Chris Austin, Development Director, British High Commission, says this report draws on research and expertise to look at learning during and after Covid-19, ensuring the learning needs of the most disadvantaged and marginalised are at the heart of the report. ““The event was about sharing recent evidence on how to make investment in education work as well as possible.”” he says.

The event was convened by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) Education Research Team with a view to building availability and uptake of rigorous evidence to ensure education policies deliver stronger foundational learning for all children.

Dr Stephen Taylor, Department of Basic Education, says disruptions to schooling matter, not just for learning, but also for nutrition through our school feeding programmes, which have been shown to be really important for our children. “Therefore, keeping schools open is a crucial recommendation for many reasons. The magnitude of learning loss is significant, but there is still so much potential for improving fundamental learning levels. I hope Covid-19 refocuses our attention on what is essential for schooling and preventing future learning losses.”

Dr Benjamin Piper, a member of the GEEAP, says the education sector faced challenges even before Covid-19. “We knew that children being in school was not the same as learning in school. The purpose of the panel has been to try and identify the magnitude of the challenges and understand the equity dimensions involved. We then need to focus on sharing evidence and understanding how we can take solutions to scale to respond to those needs.”

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