UNICEF, Microsoft launch global education platform in Ukraine for overcoming education crisis during COVID-19
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Microsoft Corp. have announced the expansion of a global educational platform to help children and youth continue to study at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ukraine will be one of the first three countries to launch a joint project, UNICEF has said.
"From school closures, to isolation, to a persistent sense of fear and anxiety, the effects of this pandemic are impacting childhoods worldwide," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. "We need to come together and explore every avenue to keep children learning and help them through this difficult time. With long-term partners like Microsoft, we are able to swiftly deploy innovative, scalable solutions for children and youth. The adaptations made to the Learning Passport are a powerful reminder of what we can achieve together for children as the crisis deepens globally," UNICEF Executive Director said.
According to the latest data from UNESCO, 1.57 billion pupils and students in 190 countries are experiencing the consequences of school closures.
Learning Passport was created as a result of a partnership between UNICEF, Microsoft and Cambridge University, and was originally developed for online distance education for refugee and displaced children. The functionality of the resource was significantly expanded to ensure the implementation of the curriculum at the national level for children and youth after the closure of schools due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The platform also provides key resources for teachers and educators.
"The Learning Passport, which has been in development for the past 18 months, was due to start as a pilot programme this year. When the global pandemic hit and schools were closed worldwide, the programme underwent rapid expansion of its reach. Now all countries with a curriculum capable of being taught online will be able to facilitate online learning for children and youth with devices at home," UNICEF said in a press release.
The platform's content for Ukrainian children and youth will be available in May and will include online books, videos, as well as additional support for parents of those children who have special educational needs.
"A new challenge for the education system is the development of such tools and solutions for distance learning that would be convenient and understandable for all teachers and students. We support the launch of the Learning Passport platform for Ukraine. After all, these are new opportunities for the education of our citizens in quarantine and after its completion," acting Minister of Education and Science Liubomyr Mandziy said.
The Learning Passport platform will be used in Ukraine to create an online resource for self-education and non-formal education, namely to disseminate programs for the development of social and emotional skills among adolescents.
Within the framework of the project, a digital version of the UPSHIFT curriculum will be created, aimed at developing entrepreneurial skills among adolescents and youth as agents of social change, as well as providing opportunities for implementing their own initiatives on social entrepreneurship.
The platform for each country provides online curriculum resources and additional materials in their native language. These materials will be selected by experts to best meet the needs of students and teachers. On the Learning Passport platform, it is possible to create a profile for each student, taking into account the results of academic subjects, as well as the ability to receive the necessary additional support.
Learning Passport is part of the Generation Unlimited distance learning partnership, which aims to use technology to deal with the challenges students and educational institutions face in particular in conflict and humanitarian contexts. Generation Unlimited is a global multisectoral partnership designed to meet the growing needs for education, training and work for young people.