Coronavirus – Uganda: UNICEF scales up support in 145 countries to keep children learning, as COVID-19 forces majority of schools worldwide to close

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As nationwide school closures disrupt education for more than 80 per cent of students worldwide, UNICEF today announced it will significantly scale up support in all countries to help children continue their learning while keeping schools safe.

“Schools in the majority of countries worldwide have closed. It is an unprecedented situation and unless we collectively act now to protect children's education, societies and economies will feel the burden long after we've beaten COVID-19. In the most vulnerable communities, the impact will span generations,” said Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Global Chief of Education.

“Based on lessons learned with the school closures in response to Ebola, the longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return. Giving children alternative ways to learn and also by doing so, rebuild a routine, is a critical part of our response,” said Jenkins.

To help curb the disruption to children's education and keep children learning safely, UNICEF has allocated additional funding to accelerate work with governments and partners in more than 145 low- and middle-income countries. The initial global allocation of US $13 million — nearly $9 million of which is from a contribution made by the Global Partnership for Education — will be catalytic by supporting national governments and a wide range of education partners in each country to develop plans to enable a rapid, system-wide response.

The initiative will enable countries to prepare alternative learning programmes in the case of school closures and help schools keep children and their communities safe by providing vital information on handwashing and other hygiene practices. The funds will also help support children's mental health and prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.

In all 145 countries, UNICEF will work with partners to:

Support governments' crisis response plans including technical assistance, rapid risk analysis, data collection, and planning for the reopening of schools. Support the planning and implementation of safe school operation and risk communication including translating, printing, disseminating and implementing safe school guidelines; equipping schools with hygiene packages and circulating critical information on disease prevention; and training teachers and caregivers in psychosocial and mental health support for themselves and students. Ensure continuity of learning and access to remote learning programs including designing and preparing alternative education programmes through online, radio and television. Enhance knowledge sharing and capacity building for the current response and future pandemics.

In Uganda, to keep children learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Sports, UNICEF and the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U), have introduced a free of charge and easy to use digital learning platform – Kolibri – with education content approved by the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) in Science and Mathematics for Secondary School learners and Inclusive education for primary.

To access Kolibri one will need internet connectivity and gadgets such as a desk computer, laptop or smartphone and follow the guide below.

Step by Step Guide:

Open a browser (Chrome) on the device being used. Load/type the following link http://e-learning.education.go.ug A login page will appear. Create an account with a username and password or explore without an account. Keep your login details and use them again. The following content folders will display: Secondary School, Youth Center, Funza, and Ministry of Education and Sports & Kyambogo University for inclusive education in Uganda. Proceed to navigate through the content.

At the same time, to support the continued learning of the vast majority of children who would want to access Kolibri but do not have the required gadgets or are limited by lack of electricity, UNICEF, together with the Ministry of Education and Sports and other education partners, are exploring the use of existing radio-based learning materials since radio reaches more than 80 per cent of Ugandans.

UNICEF and partners will also support the Ministry of Education and Sports to design an accelerated learning programme that will benefit all children when schools reopen.

Read more about the Kolibri platform – https://www.unicef.org/uganda/stories/unicef-and-government-uganda-roll-out-kolibri-platform

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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