Worldwide school closures and widespread economic and social disruptions due to COVID-19 have posed significant hurdles to achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), the delivery of quality education for all by 2030. At the peak of the closures, some 1.6 billion children were out of school, and with limited internet access for many, remote learning was challenging to facilitate.
There are also fears that the pandemic and related school closures will have an outsized impact on girls, as Education Outcomes Fund CEO, Dr. Amel Karboul, commented in a recent article in Investment Monitor:
“Girls are at particular risk of not returning to the classroom, as recent epidemics, such as the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, have shown. We must be particularly mindful to ensure that COVID-19 isn’t exacerbating inequalities in education access and attainment that predated the pandemic.”
As the global education community seeks to accelerate the recovery from these disruptions, Investment Monitor looks at whether advancements in remote learning, educational technology (edtech), and increased foreign direct investment (FDI) could play a role.
The article highlights the potential for technology to help ensure access to education when schools are closed, sharing examples such as Nigeria, which has used a range of channels—from TV to social media—to engage children in remote learning throughout the pandemic.
Vikas Pota, founder of T4 Education and EOF High-Level Steering Group member, shared in the article why he believes that there is “a strong opportunity for high-quality technical development in education,” noting that there is already interest from venture capitalists in investing in edtech.
FDI could help accelerate the creation and deployment of edtech solutions by partnering with startups in developing countries that have developed innovative ways of delivering lessons and building teaching capacity during lockdowns. Additionally, investment in telecoms could help enable more remote learning opportunities in developing countries, where poor infrastructure and lack of internet access are often major barriers to education for many children.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated threats to achieving quality education for all, it has also illuminated the opportunity to invest in technology to reach the world’s most vulnerable populations. The article concludes that:
“The importance of investment in edtech and infrastructure to give children and adults better access to quality education, and enable them to gain the skills that will improve their employment prospects, cannot be overstated.”
You can read the full article in Investment Monitor here.