Fast-tracking education efforts in response to COVID-19

Together with the Global Book Alliance, Norway will facilitate rapid access to reading resources in 250 languages.

As COVID-19 spreads globally, the number of children, youth and adults not attending schools or universities because of the pandemic is soaring. Governments all around the world have closed educational institutions to contain the global pandemic. According to UNESCO monitoring, over 165 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting over 87 percent of the world’s student population.

UNESCO has established a COVID-19 education coalition, working to minimise the educational disruption and facilitate the continuity of learning, especially for the most vulnerable.

The Coalition is welcomed by the Global Book Alliance (GBA), a partnership bringing together organisations such as UNICEF, the World Bank, Save the Children, USAID, Norad and others who are working to ensure that all children get access to the books they need to learn to read.

It is vital to ensure continuity around children’s acquisition and practice of reading skills as schools are closing worldwide.

Establishing a cross-platform search

The Global Book Alliance wants to help ensure that responses today help to build resilience and access to reading material in case of future crises. Therefore, the Alliance has committed to fast-track a cross-platform search for supplementary early grade reading resources in 250 languages.

The Global Digital Library, a GBA flagship initiative managed by the Government of Norway through Norad, is already facilitating access to openly licensed, free, high-quality reading resources in 42 languages.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Norad and the GBA will redirect current resources to create a seamless cross-platform search function across multiple source sites in order to rapidly expand access to books in more languages.

By summer 2020

By summer 2020, the cross-platform search will cover openly licensed resources in at least 150 languages. The number of languages is planned to expand to more than 250 within the year.

In accelerating this work, the GBA and Norad will emphasise pathways for reaching all children, including those with disabilities, at scale with reading resources.

This will be done through multiple avenues, including distribution partnerships with mobile operators and technology companies and through books being audio recorded, subtitled with sign languages, or potentially read aloud on radio.

Available reading resources

Norway has over the last years already funded the development of – or collected - digital high-quality early grade reading resources in a variety of languages widely spoken in developing countries. As a response to the global pandemic, we have compiled a list of this material for easy sharing with relevant stakeholders.

The resources are openly licensed and free and can be used by governments, teachers, parents, NGOs and anyone else looking for quality reading material for children.

Published 27.03.2020
Last updated 27.03.2020