The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is providing an additional US$250 million to help developing countries, including Nigeria to respond to the immediate and long-term disruptions to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This brings GPE’s total coronavirus response funding to more than US$500 million, which is aimed at helping to sustain learning for up to 355 million children in 67 countries.
The Board Chair, Julia Gillard in a release sent to THISDAY, said the move comes in response to the high demand for GPE’s support.
According to her, since the launch of GPE’s COVID-19 fund, on April 1, 48 countries have applied for US$511 million in emergency grants, and more are expected to apply in coming weeks.
“GPE’s response comes amidst growing concern that the combined impact of school closures and economic hardship caused by the pandemic will increase inequalities and roll back hard-won gains in improving education in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“This in turn would have adverse impacts on future economic growth, peace and stability, environmental sustainability and on health outcomes, including countries’ abilities to respond to future pandemics.”
Gillard said GPE’s swift response will help mitigate the immediate impacts of this crisis, adding that it is however not enough.
“We need global action to protect and finance education in order to prevent irreparable damage to our children’s futures.”
More than 80 per cent of the 1.2 billion children currently out of the classroom due to COVID-19, she said are in developing countries, where school closures are compounding an already urgent learning crisis.
The Board’s Vice-Chair, Serigne Mbaye Thiam expressed concern that the pandemic could exacerbate inequalities and force tens of millions of children out of school, adding that this could bring about a devastating loss, both for children’s futures and in its fight against poverty.
“GPE has already allocated US$125 million to 10 countries, where the funds are supporting the roll-out of distance learning programmes that prioritise the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including girls, children with special needs and disabilities, as well as children without access to electricity or internet connectivity.
“The partnership has also provided US$7.5 million to UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank to ensure countries can benefit from economies of scale, learning and best practices,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Alice Albright regretted that the disrupted learning could permanently derail millions of children’s lives, adding, “GPE is helping our partner countries keep students learning and plan how to get children safely back in school, and working with ministries of education to re-imagine education for a post-pandemic world.
“The additional funding, approved at an emergency session of GPE’s Board of Directors brings the total response of the partnership to US$509 million, making it the largest provider of funds dedicated solely to education in the global coronavirus response thus far,” she said.
On March 25, GPE provided close to US$9 million to UNICEF, to help 87 developing countries plan their responses to school closures. On April 1, the partnership also announced a US250 million response fund including US$225 million to help 67 countries implement these response plans, and US$25 million to support global and regional learning.