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The information provided below was submitted as at 2020-05-19 19:42:56 by Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) in responding to the AU Survey of Partners Education Sector Response to COVID-19. The information is solely for experience sharing purposes and not to be used for other purposes without express permission of the African Union Commission.

 

Name of Organisation: Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)
 
Website: www.adeanet.org
 
Key objectives of the initiative/program?
In order to obtain a clearer view of the status of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and to better support countries in the immediate, short and long term, ADEA developed a questionnaire and sent it to 16 most affected African countries during the period of March 2020, as a pilot, to facilitate a mapping of the national situation in the education sector. The questionnaire covers, among other areas, the national strategies in place to ensure learning continues at home, available teaching and learning platforms as well as tools/applications, the effectiveness of the strategies in addressing inclusivity and equity, level of engagement of financial, technical and social actors as well as decentralized and deconcentrated units, some of the challenges and early-stage practices and lessons learned. The feedback from 12 of the countries (75% return rate) is enabling ADEA, together with other partners, to formulate an informed response support strategy and share some of the best country working practices with other African countries for peer learning and experience sharing.

More information is available here: http://www.adeanet.org/sites/default/files/report_education_at_home_covid-19.pdf

 
Elements of the Initiative/Program
COVID-19 response planning, Direct support to Ministries of Education, Back to school campaigns;
 
Sectors of Education targeted by the Initiative/Program
Pre-School, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Education, TVET.
 
Other Organisations/Institiutions involved in implementing the program/initiative
Here is a list of other organizations/institutions involved in implementing our latest initiatives in light of COVID-19: African member countries, several African writers and publishers, African Storybook, African Union Commission, Apreli@, The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read initiative, Creative Commons, The Global Book Alliance, The Global Digital Library, GPE, ICDE, INEE, Learning Equality, NORAD, Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver, Smart Africa, UNESCO, UNHCR, and Verizon.
 
Regions in Africa benefiting from Program/Initiative
Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Northern Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa
 
Countries in Africa benefiting from Program/Initiative
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe
 
Challenges with the COVID-19 response
In reference to ADEA’s initiative and despite the gallant efforts by countries to ensure the continuity of education, gaps and challenges are bound to exist due to the abrupt and necessarily urgent need to have a strategy and plan in place. Inclusion is a key gap area, not only in terms of coverage and 'all-level' sector-engagement, but also in ICT uptake and radio and TV coverage. But even these are limited in terms of learning new things. In some instances, the TV lessons are more of a revision of topics already covered, without introducing a new one. This could be due to the awareness of the fact that not everyone can access such platforms; and may have an impact on the completion or comprehensive coverage of the syllabus. Other critical challenge areas include the lack of time for adequate preparation of educators for online lesson delivery, inadequate funding, weak parental supervision in some households, weak quality assurance in assessments and little or ineffective monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
 The challenge of accessing ICT tools is recurrent in terms of adequate tools and low coverage of the internet, with only a few countries mentioning support from the government on a plan to provide free internet package to vulnerable households.
 On finance, Côte d’Ivoire, for example, mentioned the general amount that the government will provide to support the crisis, without specifying the percentage or amount dedicated to the education sector.
 Also, very few countries are referring to the use of mobile applications for educational content.
 While the response is to ensure that learning continues, the conditions may not be ideal as teachers have not been trained to work from home as this requires a different pedagogical approach.
 There is a lack of clarity on how the countries will capacitate teachers in adopting and using ICT solutions, neither are there adequate guidelines to assess learners, beyond the homework/assignments. In Mauritius, the ministry is using its educators’ database and liaising with teacher unions in the identification of staff for the preparation of educational resources for educational tv programs. The move is, however, silent on actual teacher preparation.
 On monitoring and evaluation (M&E), Kenya highlights that while head-teachers received the information regarding the closure of learning institutions, there is no format provided for them for monitoring the learners so there is no way of telling if the assignments are being done or not. For learners in private schools, however, things are different, and the teachers can get online feedback.
 The monopoly of radio and/or TV in some homes is a real challenge: there is only one TV in most households. Thus, if the head of the home is not keen on education, it will deny the learners the opportunity to learn as there will be a scramble for TV time. In some homes, the use of the radio is a preserve of the parents, especially for listening to the news; thus, unless there is deliberate advocacy and clear communication from governments for parents to allow their children to use the radio, learning will not be possible.

ADEA also received varied responses to the questionnaires, with some countries providing a general overview of the situation of education while others delved into greater detail in specific aspects. For instance, some countries do not specifically mention the specific radio and/or TV channels, or the specific tools they are using. Other countries did not provide a full list of tools and platforms. A similar situation obtained regarding the country-level collaboration with development partners where some countries mentioned the names of the partners while others did not but indicated a strong level of partner engagement. Finally, this kind of education largely benefits those who have access to ICT and smartphones; it hardly caters to those in informal settlements and low-income homes where electricity is not available. Also, learners will not be at par in terms of syllabus coverage since there are those who will not do the work because they are unsupervised, and others cannot access the online lessons and notes.

 
Lessons learned from the COVID-19 response
In reference to ADEA’s initiative, as much as it is still early days to know the full impact of the measures that countries have instituted for the continuity of education during the COVID-19 period, a key strategic policy approach that ensures country ownership of the process is the establishment of state-led multi-stakeholder educational committees at national and sub-national levels. The foregoing are other practices that have emerged and are worth highlighting.
First is the use of diverse media and tools to provide distance and online education through interactive communication between teachers, learners, and the community.
• Optimizing the use of dedicated national radio and TV channels with clear lesson schedules, working in collaboration with the private and media houses to provide dedicated channels, and undertaking actions such as re-broadcasting helps to reduce inequalities in the provision of distance learning.
• Providing online content on public and private portals and websites for teaching as well as self-directed learning and consultation by other education stakeholders.
• Seizing the opportunity of available virtual interactive communication platforms and tools/applications, with some customization in the case of higher levels of education and private education providers, to offer certified digital content for teaching, learning, and assessment/examination.
• Some countries have developed their own platform to provide educational content. Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco are a few examples.
Secondly, due to the sudden and unplanned change in the mode of education delivery, a good number of countries prioritized their initial focus learners in examination classes.
A third good practice is on partnership. All the countries have indicated that they formally collaborated with a diverse number of stakeholders, both within the government and externally, in providing education from home. These include technical and financial development partners, the private sector (e.g. private radio and television media houses, telecommunication companies, and ICT and EdTech companies), civil society (e.g. NGOs and faith-based organizations).
The establishment of a system for validating education content offered by stakeholders by the relevant government institutions and successful agreements with telecommunication providers for access to online resources free of charge or at reduced rates using mobile telephony networks is also a good practice.
 
Good practices with the COVID-19 response
In reference to ADEA’s initiative, below are some of the good practices and lessons that can be shared to inform future advance preparations for eventualities such as COVID-19.
1. In general, the present health crisis has highlighted the ability to pool the skills and resources of different players in the public and private sectors, both national and international. Specifically, it has made it possible to experiment with new learning approaches and new avenues for disseminating knowledge (e.g. online dissemination of filmed course modules, use of mobile and smartphones, televisions, and radios).
2. Optimizing the use of dedicated national radio and TV channels helps to reduce inequalities and enhances inclusion in the provision of digital learning. The expectation is that stations of the two media will recognize their key role in supporting national education goals and strive to improve the quality of their programming, as part of their social responsibility.
3. Commitment, general mobilization, and responsible civic involvement of all actors in the education and training sector and other sectors of socioeconomic development are necessary ingredients for the success of any national distance education project.
4. Prior development of great expertise in the field of distance education is of necessity. In Morocco and other African countries, for example, distance education does not date from the beginning of Covid-19; several functional portals have existed for a long time and cover all levels of education.
5. Intensive use of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) tools and the use of remote mechanisms to access education content are essential in times of crisis; they require significant investment.
6. The need for a strong collaboration is also critical because governments alone cannot manage the expansion of education provision through online platforms and other tools.
Other countries and education stakeholders can benefit from more lessons and good practices around the use of local languages, addressing inequality (inclusivity), and learning assessment practices.

 
Innovations implemented during the COVID-19 response
The example from Morocco where learners, teachers, and parents have access to a central forum where they can engage with the teachers and education experts by calling or sending questions and suggestions via a toll-free number and email address is worth sharing. Also, a few countries are reviewing the schedule for school holidays and planning compact tutoring and remedial lessons once normal learning resumes.
The other key innovation implemented is the creation and/or enhancement of several educational applications and platforms to help parents, teachers, schools and school systems facilitate student learning and provide social caring and interaction during periods of school closure. To this end, we would like to examine Annex 2 of ADEA’s questionnaire: http://www.adeanet.org/sites/default/files/report_education_at_home_covid-19.pdf

 

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