One of the greatest challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak is its impact on education.
Essential lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the deadly disease has meant the closure of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the globe. Often without much notice, schools, colleges and universities have had to adjust to new ways of delivering lessons and connecting with their students.
As many countries begin a strategic exit from confinement, institutions, officials and those who decide policies are evaluating the full impact of the outbreak on learning. They are also exploring strategies to get back on the pathway to delivering their sustainable development education goals.
The Commonwealth is committed to supporting its members with this process.
In particular, initiatives such as the Commonwealth Education Policy Framework (CEPF), developed to help countries to better align their national education policies to global development goals and Commonwealth values, are key resources in helping education systems remain sustainable and resilient in the face of emerging global challenges.
At the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (19 CCEM) held in June 2015 in Nassau, The Bahamas, Ministers highlighted the centrality of education for building resilience and preparing the next generation of Commonwealth citizens to contribute positively to their communities.
Based on agreements made at 19 CCEM, the CEPF was developed through extensive Pan-Commonwealth consultation.
Crucially, the Commonwealth Secretariat developed the CEPF, in consultation with policy officials from member countries, to incorporate four cornerstones which help define what constitutes a good education system. So, across our nations it is agreed that a successful system is one that provides equitable access to good quality, relevant and sustainable learning.
Since its publication in 2017, the CEPF has been supporting countries in the Pacific, such as Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu; and in Africa - Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania - to strengthen their education systems.
Its benefits include:
These are all key considerations as governments and institutions consider a ‘new normal’ for learning and education during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The CEPF is an asset to those planning national education policies, delivery, management, stakeholder engagement, and funding; because it is founded on the principle that innovation must be nurtured in order for systems to be sustainable and resilient.