NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopia has received a US $14.85 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to boost its response to disruptions in education caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The World Bank will be the grant agent for Ethiopia: COVID-19 Education Response Project, which aims to maintain student learning while schools are closed, support safe reopening of schools, and strengthen the resilience of the education system.
The COVID-19 pandemic and temporary school closures have left 26 million Ethiopian students out of school, which may have long-term impacts on their health, development, and future earning potential. Temporary school closures may also lead some children from vulnerable households, especially girls and students in rural areas, to permanently drop-out of school, presenting an urgent need to support and encourage re-enrollment once schools reopen.
To support the safe and effective reopening of schools, the project will, among other things, supply thousands of schools with sanitation and safety materials, conduct an extensive communication campaign to inform parents and students about available resources and re-opening procedures, and establish an emergency helpdesk to report COVID-19 incidents. The project will also support distance learning activities during school closures and provide accelerated learning activities that will enable students to “catch-up” after schools reopen.
According to Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, “This project will support the government’s effort to provide distance learning using digital and broadcasting platforms including radio and TV, as well as printed materials to help school children, particularly the vulnerable children and pastoralist girls from the poorest households, to continue to learn while schools are closed due to the pandemic.”
Ethiopia has achieved impressive gains in social and human development that are important to sustain. To realize national aspirations for attaining lower middle-income country status by 2025, enhanced human capital, and continuous commitment to education, are needed to drive economic development. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic shock present serious challenges to the educational system, but if Ethiopia moves quickly to support continued learning it can mitigate the damage and even turn recovery into new opportunity.
“Ethiopia has been a GPE partner since 2004 and has made great strides to make its education system better and accessible to more children,” said Alice Albright, GPE’s CEO. “These commitments are paying off, but even brief interruptions in education can have devastating consequences on children’s learning and wellbeing. These emergency funds from GPE will help Ethiopia ensure that its hard-won gains are preserved, and that no child’s education is left behind because of COVID-19.”
The Project will be implemented over the next 18 months and will complement and leverage other ongoing education projects supported by the World Bank.