Children are missing out on school
We hope you are all staying safe and healthy, and connecting with family and friends during this unprecedented time. Please know that we are thinking about you as we all navigate the coronavirus pandemic together.
Despite the adjustments we’ve all had to make, many of you have already donated, often giving more than in previous years. We are so incredibly grateful for this generous gesture of solidarity and support for 60 million girls as we try to reach our 2020 fundraising objective of $300,000.
It is you – our supporters, donors and volunteers – who make it possible to fund
education projects for children in some of the world’s poorest regions.
Global impact on students, parents and educators
Children around the world, including here in Canada, are home from school and the consequences are far reaching – on different levels. We worry about how long children will be out of school, how much learning they will miss and whether or not the poorest girls in developing countries will return to school once this is all over.
At the same time, families are juggling work obligations, homeschooling, worry about older relatives, and new concerns about basic tasks like grocery shopping as the coronavirus impacts our decisions about when, and how often, it’s okay to leave the house.
These issues are even more challenging in communities without reliable tools for remote learning, a parent who has the time and know-how to become a teacher, or the ability to leave home to get food.
Innovative solutions needed to keep children learning
Clearly, the large number of out of school children presents a major global challenge. UNESCO estimates that 1.6 billion children – 90.2% of enrolled learners – are out of school. There is little doubt that the impact on the poorest will be most severe.
Less than half the world’s population has Internet connectivity, and in poor countries it’s much lower: 8% in Liberia, 28% in Nicaragua and 39% in Ghana (the countries in which we are supporting projects this year). Further, if parents are poorly educated themselves, or illiterate, it is difficult for them to homeschool their children – even if they have the resources.
The international community is working hard to find ways to keep school children on track – so that they go back to the classroom when the crisis is over. Our partners are looking at implementing educational programs through radio and television.
Our Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) is in many ways the perfect solution – as it does not require the Internet and can give access to quality learning materials to small groups of children. It also provides teachers with resources to hone their skills – like the training course designed by World Possible Guatemala.
During school closures from the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, our partner used the MLL with great success, bringing it directly to the children. With this is mind, we are exploring different options that maintain social distancing needs to keep students, teachers and our partners safe.
We are in this together
Over the last weeks, I have been touched as so many of you continue to give and as our partners keep us up to date with their respective projects. Together, the strength of our community ensures that we’ll be able to continue supporting vulnerable students while sharing best practices for education within our network during this crisis. This means that we can suggest new initiatives and successful approaches to others struggling with the same challenges.
As we have seen here at home, it is by putting forward the best of us that we will come through this in the most positive way possible.
Thank you so much for your generosity, your support and your ideas as we face this pandemic together.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
The Mobile Learning Lab travels…
The Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) aims to improve the quality of education for children living in remote areas where traditional textbooks and other learning materials are scarce and where there may be neither electricity nor Internet. Recognizing its many benefits, our partners, and other organizations, are deploying this resource in different settings around the world. We are particularly pleased to announce that two projects were recently granted funding by the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT), through Global Affairs Canada, for use of the MLL in Nicaragua and Uganda.
Change for Children (CFC) was awarded $250,000 to test a teacher-training program and digital resource database in four remote indigenous villages of the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua. We have funded several projects in this area, where Wanda travelled last year to see, firsthand, the impact of our investments. You can read about her trip on our blog.
This 14-month project will offer teachers additional resources and information so that they can engage students in an effective and gender-sensitive way. The project will fund culturally-appropriate teacher training through an offline MOOC (massive open online course) that will be taught in the local language.
Lorraine Swift, CFC’s executive director, travelled to Nicaragua in March to set up the FIT project with help from Romeo Rodriguez and his co-workers of World Possible’s Guatemala chapter. Together, they completed a baseline study and gender analysis and showed teachers and community facilitators how to use the RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) and the Chromebooks to access the course and other educational tools. You can watch these two videos: the first of the installation of the solar panels and the second of the training sessions.
FIT also awarded funding to Embrace International Foundation, an NGO founded by Bev and Paul Carrick with whom we have worked for many years. Based on technical guidance from 60 million girls, Embrace received $215,000 to implement the MLL in rural Uganda.
This one-year project aims to empower and improve the lives of students, especially girls and those living with disabilities. Its goal is to promote skills development and increase enrolment rates. Embrace will also evaluate the impact of the MLL on learning for children with disabilities – a first for one of our partners. We hope that this experience will help other organizations around the world see how e-learning can be used for all students.