Students with their tablets


UNESCO responds to the global crisis in education due to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the world in 2020, disrupting the schooling of more than 1.6 billion learners at its height, UNESCO moved quickly. Creating a new model for international cooperation, it founded the Global Education Coalition (GEC) to develop inventive responses to help countries cope with the crisis.

One of the most ambitious partnerships in UNESCO’s history, the GEC rapidly assembled 150 institutional partners – from multilateral organizations, the private sector, non-profits and civil society, networks and associations, and the media – that offered their expertise to help ensure continuity in education.

Global Education Coalition

Since March 2020, at least 400 million learners and 12 million teachers in 112 countries have benefited from GEC actions. With members now numbering more than 175, the Coalition bases its efforts on three pillars: demand-driven country interventions; the themes of Teachers, Connectivity and Gender Equality; and data, knowledge and advocacy.

Four major campaigns are aimed at equipping 1 million youth to find jobs; providing 1 million teachers with remote learning skills; helping 1 million learners receive remedial learning in STEM; and supporting 5 million girls in 20 countries to fulfil their right to education.

Project outcomes show that GEC intervention is fast, efficient and able to leverage resources not usually available.

It engages new actors – telecommunication companies, the education technology industry, the media – to complement national efforts to ensure continuity of learning. This unique model of collaboration has been mirrored at the national level, with Peru, for instance, creating a local chapter with 42 members across sectors who have already launched 73 initiatives.

Clearly, education today needs all the support it can get. The global disruption caused by COVID-19 is without parallel and effects on learning are severe. According to a December 2021 report from the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, this generation of students risks losing US $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14 per cent of today’s global GDP, as a result of school closures.


Evidence of the detrimental impacts of school closures offers a harrowing reality: learning losses are substantial, with the most marginalized children and youth often disproportionately affected. Girls are particularly at risk, ‘as they are quickly losing the protection that schools and learning offers to their well-being and life chances.
says the report, The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery
The state of the global education crisis: a path to recovery
World Bank

In 2022, the Coalition has shifted its focus from emergency response to recovery and building resilience. Partners are working to assist countries to reopen schools safely, bring all learners back to school and organize effective remedial learning. Promoting digital transformation is a key priority to bridge gaps and craft new inclusive and equitable solutions.