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New reality demands new approaches to education

The ‘new normal’ of work, school and home life may look completely different to anything we’ve experienced before but can it also be an opportunity to explore new approaches for delivering quality education?

The Center for Universal Education (CUE) at the Brookings Institution thinks so.

CUE believes that scaling an education initiative requires strong leaders from diverse sectors working toward a common goal.  So how does the scaling process play out in real time, and can lessons learned be captured and shared to inform related efforts?

They’re investigating these and other questions through Real-time Scaling Labs, an action research approach of their Millions Learning project, that’s supported by BHP Foundation.

Working with government and civil society partners in Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, Jordan, the Philippines and Tanzania, they are experimenting with new approaches, leveraging deep roots within communities, sharing knowledge and embracing windows of opportunity to ensure children and young people continue to receive an education.

Jenny Perlman Robinson, Brookings senior fellow says with the world facing significant challenges, addressing the immediate and longer-term effects of the pandemic on education systems is critical.

‘Crises showcase leadership,’ Robinson, says.   

‘If the international education community can come together and learn from each other about new ways of providing quality education, it will emerge better equipped to help students thrive in a rapidly changing world.’

‘That should provide us all with a sense of hope.’

In Botswana, a youth-driven NGO, Young 1ove, is experimenting with new approaches to adapt and scale evidence-based health and education initiatives. When the government closed schools in response to COVID-19, Young 1ove rapidly mobilized to collect 10,000 students’ mobile numbers to provide text-message based instruction and established hotlines to answer questions from parents and students. Young 1ove is also working with television and radio programs to deliver proven life-saving messages.

CUE’s scaling lab partner in Tanzania, CAMFED, supports marginalized girls as they complete secondary school and empowers them to become independent women. CAMFED’s Learner Guides deliver a life skills curriculum in secondary schools to complement academic teaching. To help communities respond to the pandemic, Learner Guides are currently working with families to share official World Health Organization and government guidance and improvise learning opportunities at a safe distance for students while schools remain closed.

In Jordan, CUE has also partnered with INJAZ, a nongovernmental organization that builds youth competencies in financial education and entrepreneurship. These are skills that will be critical to stabilizing Jordan’s economy and creating jobs in the wake of the pandemic.

The global network of Real-time Scaling Labs continues to remain in, sharing stories and learning from each other about how to move forward despite the new challenges.

While the virus continues to uniquely impact every country, education leaders around the world are learning from each other as they collectively weather the storm.

Enabling young people to achieve their potential through access to quality education is a global focus for the BHP Foundation.  You can learn more about the Foundation’s global Education Equity program, and CUE’s insights on how approaches are adapting to deliver quality education.