Five years into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world is nowhere near to ensuring a quality education for all by 2030. Impressive gains in enrollment and attendance over recent decades have not translated into corresponding gains in learning. The World Bank’s metric of “learning poverty,” which refers to children who cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10, is a staggering 80 percent in low-income countries.

Many education systems around the world are now reopening fully, partially, or in a hybrid format, leaving millions of children to face a radically transformed educational experience. As COVID-19 cases rise and fall during the months ahead, the chaos will likely continue, with schools shutting down and reopening as needed to balance educational needs with protecting the health of students, teachers, and families. Parents, schools, and entire education systems—especially in LMICs—will need to play new roles to support student learning as the situation remains in flux, perhaps permanently. As they adjust to this new reality, research conducted by more than 220 professors affiliated with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and innovations from J-PAL's partners provide three insights into supporting immediate and long-term goals for educating children.

  1. Support caregivers at home to help children learn while schools are closed.
  2. As schools reopen, educators should use low-stakes assessments to identify learning gaps.
  3. Tailor children's instruction to help them master foundational skills once learning gaps are identified.

As countries rebuild and reinvent themselves in response to COVID-19, there is an opportunity to accelerate the thinking on how to best support quality education for all.

Read the full article about better education during pandemic by Radhika Bhula & John Floretta at Stanford Social Innovation Review.