How to Leave No One Behind as out of school becomes the norm – thoughts from Civil Society


by the Collective Consultation of NGOs on Education 2030 (CCNGO-Ed2030)

In just three months, the number of global COVID-19 cases has rapidly increased to almost 2 million as of April 16. It has gone beyond a health crisis, affecting all sectors from social to financial. With more than 1.5 billion learners out of school across 191 countries, the full ramifications of COVID-19 on education and learning are still unfolding. 

Civil society and NGOs are the eyes and ears on the ground during this COVID-19 learning crisis and highlight five needs post-crisis:

  • Education needs everyone and everyone needs education: The whole community approach and strengthened partnerships - with governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, teachers, parents, youth and the private sector - is the only way forward for sustainable quality education solutions. The community approach begins with concerted efforts, during and beyond the crisis, including through non-formal education to support parents and teachers as front-line actors in sustaining learning.
  • Students need relevant curricular adapted to these uncertain times: Including social and emotional learning as well as global citizenship.
  • Learners need safe, accessible communication/IT solutions which protect the user’s data: The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) indicates 3.6 billion people remain offline, with the majority of the unconnected living in least developed countries where just two out of ten people are online. 
  • Edtech solutions need to be equitable, context-sensitive and should reinforce the right to education of all: This can be fostered through global and country-level mapping of needs and capacities. Quality, free online courses can alleviate the impact of potential future school closures with targeted inclusive, quality distance education opportunities for the most vulnerable to accelerate progress to SDG4.
  • Education budgets must be protected: Budgets towards education must be protected through this financial crisis and where possible, increased for adequate and equitable solutions to be deployed and sustained. 

The CCNGO-Ed2030 members raise the flag on lockdowns and subsequent school closures causing: 

  • Shrinking opportunities for education in refugee camps and for the poorest: Education Cannot Wait terms this the ‘pile-on effect’ of the coronavirus.
  • Heightening mental and physical health problems: The World Food Programme (WFP) states that more than 320 million children around the world are now missing out on school meals due to school closures because of COVID-19. Many of these children are from poor families and depend on the daily meals they receive at school. Social safety nets, food security in this period of emergency are essential for continued learning for poor students. 
  • Growing inequalities: Many students are not benefiting from any form of education (online, TV, radio or print) nor academic monitoring and risk not returning to school.
  • Increasing reliance on shadow education post COVID 19 will adversely impact poorer students.
  • Increasing vulnerability: According to UN Women every day, on average, 137 women are killed by a member of their own family and domestic violence against women and children spike when households are placed under increased strains from insecurity, ill health, money worries, cramped or confined living conditions. In addition children's exposure to online communities increases their vulnerability to cyberbullying, risky behavior and sexual exploitation.  On the employment front, the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) estimates working hours will decline by 6.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers and is likely to affect women disproportionately.

About the CCNGO-Ed2030

The Collective Consultation of NGOs on Education 2030 (CCNGO-Ed2030), made up of partners from all regions, is UNESCO’s key mechanism for dialogue, reflection and partnership with NGOs. Its Coordinating Group is comprised of 10 elected members: Mercedes Mayol Lassalle, World Organisation for Early Childhood Education and Care (OMEP), Refat Sabbah, Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Rasheda Choudhury, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Kouame Paulin Jr., Ivorian Network for the Promotion of Education for All, Samuel Ndembele, Africa Network Campaign on Education For All (ANCEFA), Hala Gubbaj, Teacher creativity center (TCC), Christoph Jost, European Association for the Education of Adults (DVV International), Maria Khan, Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), Blanca Cecília Gomez, Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación (CLADE), Marie-Claude Machon Honore, UNESCO NGO liaison Committee.

See the CCNGO-Ed2030's working procedures and if interested in joining the network apply via this form (available in French and English).  

Related links: 

Civil society: Social and political action to prioritize education on political agendas - information and links about the Collective Consultation of NGOs on Education 2030's Global Meeting of December 2019.