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The objective of the assignment is to write up a document that summarizes: 1) the COVID19 response in the MENA region (policies, practices and impact in terms of access, participation and other secondary impacts); 2) the impact on learning loss, reflecting the findings of the updated simulation model, and 3) Policy and Programmatic recommendations to address learning loss based on lessons learned during the last year.
The document serves two main purposes: i) document the impact of COVID19 on education and learning, and ii) raise awareness amongst key stakeholders on the severity of the issue and the need to develop adequate strategies to mitigate and overcome learning loss when moving forwards.
Scope Of Work
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a real threat to children’s education: speed, depth, and global scale of the education disruption are unparalleled, with a high likelihood of deepening the learning crisis. At the onset of the crisis, most countries around the world closed their education institutions as a means of containing the spread of the epidemic, leaving over a billion students out-of-school. In MENA, all the 20 countries in the region closed their school by the end of March, affecting an estimated 110 million students enrolled in pre-tertiary education. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly two-thirds of children in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) could not read with proficiency.
There was heterogeneity, at various levels, in the implementation of strategies for continuity of learning. Most of the countries of the region reacted by putting in place strategies and actions for ensuring the continuity of learning, which varied not only from country to country and according to the education grades but also from school to school within countries. Across MENA Region, remote learning strategies were introduced, based on the ages or grades and flexible teaching and learning delivery modalities— (i) face to face for the earlier grades, (ii) hybrid, (iii) full remote learning using mixed delivery modalities (i.e., establishing and running online platforms, learning through radio and TV lessons, to paper-based learning), with different level of engagement and interaction of teachers. In addition, government efforts focused on conducting national exams— abiding by the safety protocol and social distancing.
Despite the government efforts across the MENA Region to ensure continuity of learning during school closures, country-level evidence shows that a large share of students did not have access or did not participate in the remote learning options provided. Participation and effectiveness of most remote learning programs depend on children having access to specific resources and assets, including internet connections, computers, smartphones, TV, etc. Children without access to these resources – or those in households where adults are not in a position to provide the additional support necessary for home-based learning – are therefore at risk of being excluded or left behind as school closures drag on and the world faces the possibility of a future where such outbreaks become a more regular occurrence. This is likely to disproportionately disadvantage those in low-income households, which already achieve lower educational attainment levels than better-off children. Other factors that may affect participation are capacities of teachers and parents to support their students and children, motivation and skills of children to actively engage in remote learning, as well as availability of contents relevant for the specific grade the child is in.
Overall, an entire generation of students is affected by the education crisis determined by the COVID-19 pandemic, with potential impacts that are going beyond the immediate/short term and also well beyond the education domain itself, with consequences on children’s socialization, mental well-being, and future perspective of being active members of their society, including in the labor market.
More information on the impact of the crisis would help countries to better understand the issues and put in place strategies to mitigate the impacts. Timely investment and action to prevent extreme impacts of this crisis on education (which will have consequences on the entire societies and economies) is of paramount importance in a world – and in a region – which was already tackling a learning crisis before the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the evidence is still limited on how these impacts can be profound and long term, given the fact that this is an unprecedented crisis and that data from the field is still very scarce and difficult to collect.
In this context, and given the dynamic nature of the crisis, simulation analyses can help to depict scenarios on the potential impacts that school closures, distance learning strategies, along with the economic consequences of COVID 19, can have on education participation and learning outcomes on the current generation of students. The impacts are likely to be different and may increase learning inequality.
Home based, 20 working days assignment, estimated starting date: as soon as possible.
- Advanced degree in education, communication or related field including social science
- Expertise in report writing
- Relevant experience in education or related field (minimum 5 years)
- Previous work with the UN or International Organizations is an asset
- Proven track records of research and report writing in education
- Excellent communication and writing skills in English
- Familiarity with UNICEF Mission and mandates is a key asset
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Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.
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