COVID-19: Education Ministers Worldwide Scale-up Multimedia approaches to Ensure Continuity in Learning.

An online meeting of an ad hoc group of Educational Ministers from eleven countries organized by UNESCO indicated that educational minsters across the globe have scaled-up the use of multi-media to ensure continuity in learning in the wake of COVID-19.

UNESCO on Monday, March 23, 2020, convened an online meeting of an ad hoc group of education ministers who shared information about scaled-up measures deployed in their countries to support teachers, parents, and students in coping with home learning.

The eleven countries from all regions are Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Senegal.

UNESCO reports that over the past 10 days, the number of students affected by school representing more than 3 out of 4 children and youth worldwide.

In addition, nearly 60.2 million teachers are no longer in the classroom.

Beginning the meeting UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay called for a collective responsibility for countries to take action.

“The responsibility to act is a collective one,” she said.

She also announced a forthcoming establishment of a Global Covid-19 Education Coalition to further mobilize the expertise of multiple partners and strengthen support to national educational responses.

“More than ever, learners need to be accompanied as much academically as emotionally. This is a wake-up call for education systems to place dedicated efforts on socio-emotional skills – empathy and solidarity,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education.

How are these Countries Scaling-Up Multi-media to ensure continuity in Learning?

“We are using social media tools to keep alive the relationship between teachers and students, and keep up their motivation,” said Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina

Costa Rica says it is using social networks to relay daily reading plans for students and parents and challenge students to develop campaigns to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Iranian Minister of Education, Mohsen Haji Mirzaie described a new triangle of learning connecting teachers, parents and students via virtual classrooms supported by social networks. 

“Only 60% of students have internet so we had to provide a mix of distance education with open TV to reach everyone,” said Mexico’s Minister, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, who added that his country is also exploring strategies to reach children with special needs.

Croatia’s Minister of Science and Education Blaženka Divjak shared her country’s approach which first prioritized tailor-made contents for teachers and is now increasing support to help them develop learning materials independently, take ownership of the process, and feel secure in a digital environment. 

Italy announced an €85 million package to support distance learning for 8.5 million students and improve connectivity in isolated areas.

Peru translated contents into 10 indigenous languages and developed materials on the socio-emotional aspects of education to help learners deal with isolation.

Nigeria’s Education Minister Adamu Adamu called for a national upscaling of UNESCO’s “School Meets Learner” programme, which uses technology to reach out to school girls and women in the northeastern part of the country.

France’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer stressed the need for global collaboration around the appropriate regulation of digital learning providers to ensure adherence to rules on the collection, management and use of data, especially the personal data of children and youth.

“We have made more progress with digital and distance learning in the past 10 days than in the past ten years. Without a doubt this crisis will change the way we think about the provision of education in the future,” said Egypt’s Minister Tarek Shawki.