The Education Above All (EAA) Foundation hosted a high-level virtual side-event titled ‘Education and the Trying Times of Covid-19’ during the High-Level Political Forum 2020 (HLPF 2020). The HLPF annual meeting is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. The event was co-organised with the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN, the Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD), the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and the Asian Development Bank.
Ministries, partners and experts from around the world, gathered virtually to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the education for the most marginalised, and reflected on how they can further collaborate and exchange critical information to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, and help address the financial deficiency to build back better education systems.
The high-level virtual side-event included participation from the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the UN, HE ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani; Dr Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Co-operation & Gambians Abroad; Khalifa Jassim al-Kuwari, director-general of QFFD; Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for education, Unesco; Stewart Simonson, assistant director-general, WHO’s office at the United Nations in New York; Dr Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi, education director, The World Bank; and Brajesh Panth, chief of education sector group, Asian Development Bank.
The education of more than 1.7bn learners has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, compounding the already challenging work of the international education community in ensuring all children have access to a quality primary education. Whilst the world has reeled at the number of children who have had their education interrupted as a result of school closures and the need to increase physical distance between people to protect the health of populations, efforts on ensuring immediate and longer-term, resilient and sustainable solutions have continued.
HE Sheikha Alya welcomed the panelists at the high-level virtual side-event. Dr Tangara shared his experience and appreciation of the efforts EAA is leading on, and thanked EAA and the QFFD for their commitment. “We must rebuild an education system that allows for great innovation, sustainability, equity and inclusion to leave no one behind,” al-Kuwari said.
Giannini opened the discussion on the need to build back better, saying, “We must not only do things differently, but do things better. 70mn children and youth are at risk of not returning to school."
Simonson noted, “Covid-19 has exposed global health fragility and exacerbated existing inequalities leaving many vulnerable. The numbers we see are troubling."
“We must act aggressively to expand connectivity and make sure teachers have the ability to use digital resources, available at the classroom level and integrated with the curriculum,” Dr Chanduvi highlighted.
At the closing, EAA stated: “We have been working to develop different financing solutions to meet the education needs of the world’s hardest-to-reach children. Our work has focused on innovative, sustainable financial partnerships to support education access for of out-of-school children. Providing access to education for children around the world is not an easy task at the best of times; the Covid-19 pandemic increases pressure on already stretched systems, and threatens to leave more children exposed to the direct and adverse impacts of a life without access to a quality education."