In addition to the critical health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, the pandemic has posed serious threats to global education. Of the 1.6 billion children out of school worldwide at the height of school closures during the pandemic, 120 million of those students were in West and Central African countries. In an op-ed for the global education platform WISE, Amujae Leader Aïda Alassane N’Diaye-Riddick explained how new approaches to education delivery have helped to ensure that children in her country, Côte d’Ivoire, have been able to continue learning during the pandemic.
As the Country Manager for Teaching at the Right Level Africa (TaRL Africa)—an initiative that focuses on providing primary level education based on actual student needs—Aïda worked to develop educational radio programs that enabled children in remote areas or without internet access to continue their learning at home. In the op-ed, she explains how the programs have evolved and expanded over the course of the pandemic to address students’ needs:
“Our approach was so successful in keeping children learning that the government asked us to expand our efforts. We now have a full year’s worth of radio lesson scripts—more than 240 in total—with more than 140 pods already recorded for grades one to six. These will work in tandem with in-person learning to help children receive education whether they are in the school room, or struggle to attend because they live in remote regions. We’re also working with the Ministry of Education to explore how the radio scripts can also be delivered by teachers in the classroom.”
Aïda also shared how she and her colleagues at TaRL Africa have worked with the Ministry of Education in Côte d’Ivoire and a wide range of local and international stakeholders to scale their efforts:
“We’re thinking big in our aims for education in Côte D’Ivoire; and as decided by the government, we want to see the TaRL approach being delivered to all the primary level students. But we can’t do it on our own, and partnerships and networks are critical to enable our children to receive the education they need and deserve. Working with bilateral and multilateral private partners will be vital to expanding our reach in the upcoming years.”
Aïda concludes the op-ed by acknowledging the importance of being part of networks like the Amujae Initiative, which has enabled her to connect with women leaders with valuable experience in responding to the severe effects of a health crisis in education and other sectors:
“As an Amujae Leader and member of the Amujae Initiative—a program founded by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to enable women leaders to excel—I know how powerful support and the voice of experience can be. Many of the coaches in the program, including Madam Sirleaf herself, have held leadership roles during previous crises, such as the Ebola epidemic. They saw firsthand the effects on children and wider society when education was disrupted and are invaluable guiding lights as we chart a course through this new crisis.”
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