The Covid-19 pandemic is potentially catastrophic for many children around the world. Governments have taken wide-ranging actions to mitigate and contain the pandemic, including suspension of schools. Over 250 million primary and secondary school children are out of school in Africa.
We face a global crisis of learning whose effects will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging for children in developing communities, and those already in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations. Children living in informal settlements, camps with limited infrastructure, and no access to the internet are particularly hit hard.
This threatens Sustainable Development Goal four– inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Now is the time to devise ways to alleviate not only the crisis of today but the long-term crisis that awaits us if children do not learn.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Bridge realised that we needed programs that holistically address the needs of all stakeholders while keeping pupils at the center. The bridge is providing practical support to parents and caregivers, including learning resources to support their children’s learning at home, and how to talk about the pandemic with their children.
Each day, Bridge is providing learning resources for each grade or class level for children based on the national curriculum. These are self-study activity packs; learning guides; storybooks and quizzes all specifically designed for children’s age and class. The resources are designed to work together and help keep children engaged, entertained, and most importantly learn.
Although there is little evidence as to the efficacy of remote learning, it is all we have and stakeholders in the education sector have turned their full focus on making it as effective as possible. What we know is that remote learning interventions are more effective when incorporated with monitoring and evaluation arrangements.
We believe that it’s not just about ensuring children are participating in learning activities, but ensuring that learning is actually happening. Every aspect of remote learning resources should be intended to make learning science, with a feedback loop that drives continuous improvement.
Remote learning is stronger when there is feedback on a child’s work. To keep children on a path to success, there is a need to develop free mobile interactive quizzes that children can take directly on WhatsApp and receive immediate feedback on their success.
The Bridge Mobile Interactive Quizzes for example is an effective strategy for helping children practice and retain what they have learned. We have hundreds of grade-appropriate quizzes in multiple subjects. The quizzes provide children an opportunity to practice a wide range of skills, from using vocabulary to solving math equations.
This is an unprecedented crisis and it presents unprecedented threats to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4. To mitigate these threats, we need to work together and leverage all our networks to ensure that a lack of schools does not mean a lack of learning.
There will be a gap to Bridge when schools are re-opened but if we focus and move fast then perhaps, we can prevent the gap from being too big.
The author is Communications Director, East Africa
Bridge International Academies