Girls' Education

Covid-19 and vulnerability

As Covid-19 impacts millions of people across the world, the most vulnerable will be affected most acutely, and the impact on them will be felt the longest. In many low-income countries, girls in particular face multi-dimensional challenges. We know that out of school, many will face great pressures related to increased household responsibilities and income-generating burdens, as well as increased risks of early marriage and pregnancy. Similarly, children with disabilities may be locked out of learning completely, with shifts to ‘remote’ learning unable to overcome the often-complex barriers to accessing material without appropriate content mediation. As systems begin to reintegrate, there is a real risk that many of the most vulnerable will not return to school. This generational impact of the Covid-19 crisis requires all our knowledge, expertise and endeavour to avoid.

In response to this crisis, we have been conducting rapid research on its implications for vulnerable girls, both in terms of their access to remote learning and life skills interventions, and in considering their return to education after the pandemic.

For example, in our report on reaching marginalised girls, commissioned and published by the EdTech Hub, we highlighted the importance of designing remote learning solutions for inclusion, making use of low-tech and no-tech strategies to increase the accessibility of education for girls without digital devices, as well as asynchronous lessons to enable girls to learn around their domestic or income-generating responsibilities. We also highlighted the evidence supporting the inclusion of female representatives as instructors in online, video- or radio-based educational programmes to help to improve the participation of marginalised girls.

Evidence suggests that life skills interventions for adolescent girls in emergencies have the potential to lead to reductions in unwanted pregnancies and early marriage and support girls’ return to education post-crisis. In order to help decision-makers and system leaders identify relevant and effective solutions amid the current widespread school closures, we have conducted rapid evidence reviews for the Department for International Development, specifically on girls’ life skills interventions in emergencies, with application to the Covid-19 crisis. These consider remote life skills interventions for girls, and the links between girls’ life skills interventions in emergencies, their return to education post-crisis, and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and early marriage.