By the end of March 2020, over 180 countries had closed down their schools due to the Coronavirus pandemic, affecting 87.4% of learners (data from UNESCO). This policy brief, developed by Digital Pathways at Oxford in collaboration with EdTech Hub, looks at the challenges posed by COVID-19 to education with particular attention the opportunities and constraints of using education technology in low-income countries.

Key messages:

  • During this time of crisis, education will not be business-as-usual, and EdTech alone cannot close the learning gap. It will be dedicated teachers and resilient educators who will ensure learning doesn’t stop — but they could be helped by the right EdTech tools.
  • The digital divide means that internet and mobile network access varies greatly in middle- and low-income countries.
  • Governments can provide immediate support by informing teachers about simple grassroots platforms where they can share their own EdTech solutions.
  • Educational television and radio broadcasts in combination with SMS are effective communication channels between educators and students when the internet connectivity is poor or not available.
  • It will be important for education authorities to begin planning how in 12 months’ time they will diagnose and treat the learning gaps that have emerged during the crisis.