The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) Joint Statement

Accelerating a collaborative response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The national education coalitions, education unions, regional networks and international non-governmental organisations united under the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) are calling upon governments to ensure that their response to the COVID-19 pandemic is equitable, inclusive and rights-based. The impact of the pandemic is threatening the entire Sustainable Development Agenda, including Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) as school closures in nearly two hundred countries are affecting over 1.5 billion learners, deepening patterns of inequality and exclusion.

Governments and donors, in collaboration with national and international partners must urgently ensure safe, inclusive access for all learners to emergency distance learning and psychosocial support during and after the COVID-19 crisis as well as the safe return of all learners to school.

Within these 1.5 billion learners, the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting girls and boys, young women and men differently. Thus, policies and interventions responding to the outbreak should be equitable, gender-sensitive and transformative, protective of human rights, inclusive of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, including those with disabilities and those already affected by humanitarian crises. In other words, responsive to the different needs, contextual realities and risks faced by individuals.

Girls and young women, especially those from marginalised communities and with disabilities will be particularly affected by the secondary impacts of the outbreak Therefore, response measures must address their needs and rights especially, with direct attention to violence against women and girls, which has increased in many countries under lockdowns.

The GCE recalls that education is an enabling human right, and at the same time it is part of a social protection structure that includes the right to health, information, work and comprehensive human safety. These rights cannot be ensured in isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that the rate of economic growth will decrease globally and that the crisis will increase geopolitical and technological rivalry. However, projections on the social impact of the pandemic do not show key data about the terrible consequences it will have on people’s lives and especially on the most vulnerable, and on patterns of poverty and inequality.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is estimating the global economy to enter a “recession at least as bad as during the global financial crisis or worse” and across the world governments are working quickly to respond to the crisis. The GCE is calling upon governments to ensure that all economic stimulus is equitable, inclusive, and explicitly pro-poor. Importantly, many governments in so-called developing countries do not have enough resources to respond to the pandemic, as they have a myriad of challenges relating to poor health systems, lack of social safety nets and less financial resources to provide fiscal and monetary response to counteract recession. At the same time, many industrialised countries put in place sanctions and restrictions that have consequences on developing countries.

There is an urgent need for action at both national and global levels to unlock resources, and ensure they are directed towards the countries and populations in need. Immediate solutions include debt relief and increased official development assistance (ODA).

The GCE further underlines that these difficult times must not further trends of commercialisation and instrumentalist approaches to education. We are particularly worried about the risks related to the tools and platforms used for online teaching and learning, including threats to education as a public good and the safety and integrity of learners as well as teachers. At this time, strengthening public education systems must be seen as an essential part of a more robust public response for protecting people’s life and dignity, including ensuring that measures taken throughout the COVID-19 response contribute to the strengthening of the education system not just during the crisis but after schools reopen.

Civil Society Organisations play a key role in supporting governments through the crisis, including helping to raise awareness about protective measures, spreading official information, activating networks to support the most vulnerable learners and sectors, facilitating safe, inclusive distance education and the production of teaching and learning resources, and planning for safe and protective learning environments upon return to school.

The GCE calls on the national governments, and donors:

  • To prioritise education in all emergency responses with immediate effect, and to include education in their COVID-19 response policies. Ensure the continuity of learning and return to school for all children, including those who are most disadvantaged and likely to be excluded or drop out. Ensure distance learning is accessible to all learners and supports the containment of COVID-19 through raising awareness of WASH and social and behavioral change.

  • Prioritise the health, well-being and safety of children, youth and teachers when designing any emergency measures, recognising the mental and psychosocial toll of the crisis on the entire education system. Governments must guarantee the continued provision of services, including meal distribution, protection from violence and exposition to abuse, lay out clear referral pathways and provide access to SRHR. Likewise, governments must ensure the provision of psycho social support to teachers and learners both during and after the crisis.

  • To dedicate appropriate resources, financial and technical, to ensure the right to free, quality, inclusive public education for all is maintained during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

  • All donor governments must meet the commitment of allocating at least 0.7 % of GNI in official development assistance (ODA) and ensure that aid is not tied and channeled to most needed sectors, including education.

  • The external debt payments of low-income countries to all creditors must urgently be cancelled to unlock funds in developing countries’ budgets, and emergency finance should not put countries in higher risk of debt distress.

  • Uphold and increase national education budgets, public school funding, full support for teachers and education support professionals, and ODA for education throughout the pandemic, and the economic crisis to follow.

  • Ensure that teachers continue to be at the centre of the education response through their involvement in the design and development of emergency measures as well as distance learning materials and broadcasts. Further, steps should be taken to ensure that teachers are ready and supported to teach in safe and protective environments when schools and universities reopen, with their wages and employment maintained throughout the crisis. Many teachers and education support personnel are still working and must be adequately supported and protected just as those returning to teach.

  • Ministries of education and finance should ensure the continued payment and benefits of teachers and school staff during and after school closures to retain existing teachers and ensure their expertise and knowledge is applied in distance learning strategies.

  • Plan now for the safe reopening of schools and university systems, working closely with education unions, with a focus on groups at higher risks of not returning, including girls and children with disabilities. Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that education remains free at the point of delivery and that no additional fees are introduced for school materials, lunch, or transport, inter alia.

The GCE also encourage the United Nations (UN) System to strengthen a global response aiming to:

  • Take the necessary actions to organise a global response to the global crisis, including mitigation measures, financing, social and economic re-organisation, in conjunction with governments and civil society.

  • Promote crisis and post-crisis evaluation plans that allow guiding new forms of social and economic response, especially the role that education plays during and after emergencies that are equitable, gender-transformative, protective of human rights, inclusive of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, and responsive to the different needs and risks faced by individuals.

The GCE is also concerned that the police and military surveillance mechanisms on the civilian population have disproportionate effects on youth, migrant populations and informal workers and will exacerbate the repression of democratic social protest against authoritarian regimes that have criminalised civil society, teachers and students for years.

For this reason, the GCE calls on Civil Society Organisations, Youth-led Organisations and Teachers Unions to strengthen their fundamental role in demanding full respect for human rights, especially the right to education, and encourage governments to strictly adhere to the standards of international human rights law.

Systems with highly privatised health systems are those that have shown less sensitivity and appetite to guarantee the right to health, education and life for all. Therefore, political debates, more than ever must evaluate the failure of rigid neoliberal systems in promoting the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights.

Endorsed by:
  1. “All for Education!” National Civil Society Coalition, Mongolia.
  2. ActionAid International.
  3. African Campaign Network for Education for All (ANCEFA).
  4. Albanian Coalition for Education (ACE).
  5. Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA).
  6. Arab Education Campaign.
  7. Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE).
  8. Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education (BRCE).
  9. Cameroon Education for All Network (CEFAN), Cameroun.
  10. Campaña Argentina por el Derecho a la Educación (CADE).
  11. Campaña Boliviana por el Derecho a la Educación (CBDE).
  12. Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación (CLADE).
  13. Campaña Peruana por el Derecho a la Educacion (CPDE).
  14. Campaña por el derecho a la educación en México (CADEM)
  15. Centro de Estudios Sociales y Publicaciones – CESIP, Perú.
  16. Centro Internacional de Pensamiento Crítico Eduardo del Rio (Rius) de México.
  17. CBM International
  18. CHIRAPAQ Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, Lima Perú.
  19. Civil Society Education Coalition Malawi.
  20. Civil Society Network for Education Reforms, Inc. (E-Net Philippines), Philippines.
  21. Coalición Panameña por el derecho a la educación.
  22. Coalition des Organisations Mauritaniennes pour l’Education (COMEDUC).
  23. Coalition Education, France.
  24. Coalition EPT Bafashebige, Burundi.
  25. Coalition Nationale pour l’Education Pour Tous du Burkina Faso (CN-EPT/BF).
  26. Coalition Nationale Togolaise pour l’Education Pour Tous (CNT/EPT), Togo.
  27. Coalition nigérienne des Associations, Syndicats et ONG de Campagne EPT (ASO-EPT), Niger.
  28. Colombian coalition (Coalicion colombiana por el derecho a la educacion)
  29. Consejo de Educación Popular de América Latina y el Caribe (CEAAL).
  30. Contrato Social por la Educación en el Ecuador.
  31. Danish Education Coalition.
  32. Docentes jubilados, CADE, Argentina.
  33. Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI), Zimbabwe.
  34. Equipo de Trabajo e Investigación Social (ETIS).
  35. Fe y Alegría, Argentina.
  36. Foro por el Derecho a la Educación de Paraguay.
  37. Foro Educativo de Perú.
  38. Foro Venezolano por el derecho a la Educación.
  39. Fundacion Darlocab Vij por el a la Educacion (CADE).
  40. Fundación Otras Voces. Neuquen, Argentina.
  41. Fundacion SES, Argentina.
  42. Georgian Coalition for Education(GCE-Georgia).
  43. Global Alliance for LGBT Education (GALE), Netherlands.
  44. Global Campaign for Education-United States (GCE-US), United States.
  45. Globale Bildungskampagne (GCE-Germany), Germany.
  46. Grupo de Incidencia en Política Educativa (GIPE).
  47. Kindernothilfe, Germany.
  48. Kindernothilfe, Österreich.
  49. Kindernothilfe, Schweiz.
  50. Light for the World.
  51. Marcha Global contra el Trabajo Infantil, Sudamérica.
  52. Movement 57, Afghanistan.
  53. Movement for Support of Quality Education in Afghanistan (MSQEA).
  54. National Campaign for Education Nepal (NCE Nepal).
  55. NGO Education Partnership (NEP), Cambodia.
  56. Observatorio Internacional de Reformas Educativas y Políticas Docentes (OIREPOD), Venezuela.
  57. Organización Mundial para la Educación Preescolar (OMEP), Argentina.
  58. Oxfam
  59. Portal Otras Voces en Educación (OVE).
  60. Pressenza, Italy.
  61. Programa de Comunicación y Educacion. (FCS), Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina.
  62. Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres (REPEM).
  63. Red Global /Glocal por la Calidad Educativa.
  64. Réseau Ivoirien pour la Promotion de l’Education Pour Tous (RIP-EPT).
  65. Sociedad Venezolana de educación Comparada (SVEC).
  66. Tanzania Education Network/Mtandao wa Elimu Tanzania (TEN/MET), Tanzania.
  67. Terre des Hommes Suisse Perú.
  68. Vietnam Association for Education for All (VAEFA).
  69. VSO International.
  70. Watch On Basic Rights Afghanistan Organization (WBRAO), Afghanistan.
  71. World Organisation for Early Childhood Education.
  72. World University Service, Germany (WUS Germany).
  73. World Vision International.
  74. Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC).
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The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end exclusion in education. Education is a basic human right, and our mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.