The process of gradual activation of schools in remote modalities along with weekly pedagogical support requires intersectoral assistance to prepare for a safe return.
Conditions for educational continuity during pre-emptive school closures are adverse, including reduced access to connectivity, limited technological availability, and intermittent electrical services. These circumstances disproportionately affect the most vulnerable children and adolescents, such as those with disabilities, the indigenous people and children and adolescents in hospitals.
The Education Cluster with support from UNICEF, Save The Children and UNESCO organized the two-month course "Right to Education in Times of Crisis: Alternatives for Continuing Education". A total of 5,412 participants completed all required learning segments including the final work.
Between 27 August and 8 September, the Education Cluster, with support from UNICEF and the UNESCO Office in Quito, organized the training "Rethinking Curriculum Development in Times of Pandemic”. Approaches, planning, contextualization and evaluation" for directors and Ministry of Education personnel, and private sector actors. A total of 56 participants completed the course. In addition, Education Cluster provided technical assistance to the Research and Teacher Training Department of the Ministry of Education to systematize local experiences in remote learning to make visible the educational responses of community actors to COVID-19.
In September, with the aim of improving the conditions for learning and educational continuity of children and adolescents in schools, the distribution of educational materials in individual format continued at the household level, reaching 15,567 children and adolescents (44 per cent girls and 56 per cent boys), especially in Miranda and Zulia states. In addition, 73,045 children and adolescents (61 per cent girls and 39 per cent boys) benefited from dry food distribution, or at the household level, with support from school feeding programmes, most of them in Bolivar and Zulia.
A total of 4,854 adolescents and young people (36 per cent girls and 64 per cent boys) participated in initiatives aimed at promoting educational attainment, life skills and technical training through remote methods, largely in Miranda and Zulia. A total of 30,528 children and adolescents were reached through the implementation of psycho-educational support activities online, by telephone or through home visits (47 per cent girls and 53 per cent boys) in Bolivar and Zulia.
One of the new activities incorporated in the response to COVID-19 was distance education using multi-platform resources (television, radio, virtual, print) for children and adolescents affected by school closures. During this period, 11,630 students were reached, mostly in Bolivar and Zulia.
September saw the highest number of key message promotions for the school community using social networks and the National Network Radios Fe y Alegría, which was strengthened in the framework of the project financed by 'Education Cannot Wait' reaching 5,077,740 people, especially in Anzoátegui and Táchira.
A total of 4,188 out-of-school children and adolescents (41 per cent girls and 59 per cent boys) were reached by educational reintegration initiatives in non-formal education and learning spaces. In Miranda and Zulia scholarships and other incentives for teachers and staff were provided to 2,621 people (18 per cent women and 82 per cent men) especially in Tachira and Zulia.
The limited international funding to the sector aggravates the situation and puts the sustainability of actions at risk, which is especially critical for local and community-based organizations that do not have support through international cooperation. For instance, in relation to initiatives to reintegrate children and adolescents into education outside of school, the gap stands at 94 per cent. In relation to activities with adolescents and young people on life skills and technical training the gap stands at 82 per cent. In the distribution of school kits, the gap is 83 per cent, and in school feeding 63 per cent have yet to be reached.
Despite the continued efforts of national authorities and support from Cluster partners in making distance learning available through multiple platforms, access remains uneven across different states, which is exacerbated by the lack of international funding for sustainable sources of internet access, improved electricity service and technological investment in remote communities.
Financial support is urgently needed to prepare schools for a safe return with multi-sectoral interventions, including WASH, Protection and Health.