Education for all? Getting through the pandemic with new learning formats
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, GIZ was devising alternative and digital education formats. The last year has demonstrated just how important these formats are.
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting education systems worldwide to the test: schools have been only partially open for over a year now, with up to 1.7 billion children affected by school closures at any one time. Developing countries and emerging economies are fighting to protect their hard-won success in ensuring that more children have access to education. Even before the pandemic, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH was working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to devise alternative learning formats that could be accessed through distance learning. It is also promoting digital learning. These approaches are now paying off and are being expanded.
In Lebanon, for example, schools closed back in October 2019 because of political unrest; now, they remain closed because of the pandemic. To enable children to learn, GIZ has provided support for digitalisation of content from the official curriculum. It is working with a local NGO, Lebanese Alternative Learning, to make content available on the Tabshoura e-learning platform – the word means ‘crayon’. The scheme was originally intended to supplement conventional classes, but during the pandemic, it has become a mainstay of the Lebanese education system. More than 30,000 students are currently using the platform. And to enable children without internet access to use the material, a ‘Tabshoura box’ has been devised over the past year. This is a small mini-computer pre-loaded with learning materials. Now, access to the system is being expanded: a loan system has been put in place in 400 schools enabling students to borrow a total of 60,000 tablets and other IT equipment so that they can access Tabshoura.
And GIZ has set up a digital learning platform in Africa, which is delivering results: The atingi platform enables young Africans to participate in training courses free of charge and acquire skills that are in demand locally. The platform targets young adults, who use it for career guidance but also to complete targeted training in areas such as healthcare or agriculture. Since November 2019, 170,000 users have registered for training and are completing online units. Meanwhile, business, academic institutions and civil society are also using atingi to make content available. This facilitates self-learning and also blended learning, combining face-to-face sessions with digital courses. The platform has ensured access to teaching throughout COVID-19 lockdowns.