Five lessons learnt from Bangladesh’s experience responding to COVID-19

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Written by OpenDevEd’s Tom Kaye, Md. Afzal Hossain Sarwar of a2i, and Iqbal Hossain from UNICEF. This blog was first published on 15th July 2020 as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EdTech series on The EdTech Hub website under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

In recent months, the EdTech Hub has produced a range of documents to support and guide countries as they develop and implement plans to help students keep learning during school closures. Some of the work we have produced includes:

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Is there learning continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic? Six Lessons

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An effective education response to the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be built on solid evidence and data. For example, what do you know about your population? How many families own radios and televisions? Do children use — and actually learn from — online learning platforms? How much time — if any — do learners spend studying at home?

While the edtech landscape has drastically changed in the past decade, research on edtech has not kept pace (https://edtechhub.org). At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was initially very little data on efforts to ensure learning continuity during school closures. However, a number of research groups have recently conducted surveys and collected data on the education response to COVID-19. Here, we take a look at some of the emerging evidence and summarise this data in six initial lessons.

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Department for International Development merger with Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Let us learn from our past

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On June 16th, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his decision to the House of Commons to merge the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). This decision is not a complete surprise, given that Mr Johnson openly sought to persuade Theresa May to give him the aid department in 2016 after he became foreign secretary. 

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Reflecting on epistemic injustices in open and online education

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In memory of Hector Pieterson and the hundreds of student protesters that were brutally murdered by police on the 16 June 1976 in the Soweto Uprising in South Africa. The Soweto Uprising refers to the protests by black South African high school students during apartheid against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

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Why the COVID Crisis Is Not EdTech’s Moment in Africa

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Author: Lee CrawFurd, Centre for Global Development

This blog was originally posted on the Center for Global Development blog on the 18th May 2020. Open Development & Education is part of The EdTech Hub and the data used here was from the EdTech Hub’s database of interventions. This database, which was initially limited to sub-Saharan Africa, now has a global scope. While the data is still partial (e.g. doesn’t include broader lists of edtech startups from South Africa or Ikeja, Abuja, and Lagos in Nigeria) the insights made in this article are extremely valuable. Even if the estimates were off by a factor of 2 or 3, points about the optimal use of digital learning still hold true. As the blog suggests, there is a need to increase the database’s representation of interventions in other regions. Please add your EdTech intervention to help us grow it!

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Who has what? Assessing who has access to what devices in the education response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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As with education in general, our ability to respond to COVID-19  in education depends significantly on access to resources by students and teachers. Even in this moment of crisis, governments should inform their decisions regarding education and educational resources on the available data whenever possible. However, we realise that accessing relevant data is not necessarily straightforward and this should not block other elements of system response-recovery-reform. 

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Learning through television in low-income contexts: mitigating the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Written by Joe Watson, research assistant at the University of Cambridge. This blog was first published as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EdTech series on The EdTech Hub website under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

One of the many consequences of COVID-19 is that more than a billion caregivers will soon face the stark (and often scary) realisation that they must become their children’s teachers. This will be particularly difficult in low-income contexts where many adults have not had the opportunity to have a formal education themselves. Fortunately, educational television has the potential to facilitate out-of-school learning. This technology has been shown to have real impacts on outcomes, utilises readily available technology and can be implemented at scale.

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The privilege of #pivotonline: A South African perspective

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Taskeen Adam, https://opendeved.net/2020/04/22/the-privilege-of-#pivotonline/, 2020-04-22, 10.5281/zenodo.3760383

As the global number of COVID-19 cases increase, lockdowns continue across the world. Reports from UNESCO highlight that nationwide closures are impacting over 91% of the world’s student population who can no longer attend school. With schools closed, there has been a mass shift to online education — from primary to tertiary — in what is known on social media as the #pivotonline. As conversations revolve around synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods, video conferencing platform choices, online assessment, and digital pedagogies, the unspoken underlying assumption is that teachers and learners have access to devices and the Internet. Beyond access, there is a further assumption that if internet access and devices are provided to those that need it, then online and remote learning solutions will be effective. 

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Continue or reboot? Overarching options for education responses to COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries

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The COVID-19 pandemic has far-reaching consequences for public health, including socio-economic issues. The pandemic also has consequences for education. However, in this blog post, I argue that these educational consequences will be felt more by (high-income populations in) high-income countries than low-income populations in low- and middle-income countries, such as the rural poor, who already had low learning levels prior to the outbreak.

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