This article is written by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) to outline how AKF is supporting the continuity of quality learning for all during COVID-19. It is published on the AKF website.

The Aga Khan Foundation is at the forefront of responding to the educational crisis brought on by COVID-19 through co-designing new solutions and adapting its current education programming with local communities, educators, families and learners worldwide.

Click to view or download our educational response to COVID-19 as a PDF.

Due to COVID-19, many of the world’s children have been out of school and in some developing countries for more than six months. In response, educators and families throughout the word have stepped up to the challenge with an unwavering level of commitment to ensure children continue to learn and grow, often without access to technology.

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)’s educational response work forms part of the Aga Khan Development Network’s three-pronged global COVID-19 response framework that has been developed to ensure the network can leverage its variety of agencies and partnerships to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in a coordinated way. In education, AKF has partnered with local and global stakeholders to generate new – and adapt existing – resources and support materials around three key areas:

  1. Supporting families to help children learn while at home
  2. Supporting educators to adapt to new COVID-19 compliant teaching and learning methodologies
  3. Supporting schools to prepare to reopen and build back better to address key learning gaps and promote safe and healthy learning environments.

Supporting Students and Families

To meet the demands and expectations of supporting children to learn at home, the Aga Khan Foundation has curated a number of suggested tips and resources to support children’s learning at home and to support individuals, families and children with the psychosocial support and wellbeing during the COVID-19 crisis.

The four resource documents affirm and reinforce the important role that parents and caretakers continue to have in supporting their children’s learning, growth and psychosocial support during COVID-19. The following resources are free and available for download:

Supporting Families to Help Children Learn and Grow at Home during COVID-19 – An overview and introduction to key tips and learning resources that families may consider to help their children continue to learn and grow while schools are closed during COVID-19.

12 Tips to Support Families to Help Children Learn and Grow at Home – An abbreviated set of 12 tips to provide parents and caretakers with a quick guide of suggested ideas and reflections to consider during COVID-19.

The ’12 Tips to Support Families…’ can also be accessed as free video guides, available through our Blended Learning platform, and have been translated into Russian, Tajik and three other Central Asian dialects to support very rural mountainous communities. Access the video guides

75 Suggested Online and Offline Learning Activities to Help Children Learn and Grow at Home – A curated set of 75 suggested offline and online learning activities and resources to support families to help children learn and develop during COVID-19.

Psychosocial Support and Wellbeing: Guidance for Individuals and Families The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in family members, old and young, experiencing stress, fear, worry and anxiety. But there are simple things that everyone can do to become more resilient and relieve stress and anxiety. The Aga Khan Foundation has put together tips, resources and activities to help individuals and families to better cope during this difficult time. They include recommendations and simple exercises you can do to reduce stress and anxiety and remain hopeful in an unsettled world. Videos can also be viewed here.

Supporting Educators

The pandemic has brought significant challenges to educators. While many teachers have remained positive and resilient, for others this transition has not been easy, particularly in areas with limited or no internet connectivity.

Resource Packages with 250 Actionable Solutions

To meet the demand of educators to adopt and adapt new COVID-19 compliant teaching methods to now help their students continue to learn during the pandemic, the Aga Khan Foundation, in partnership with the Aga Khan Education Services and Aga Khan Academy, has curated 250 Actionable Tips, Resources, and Recommendations to support educators at the pre-primary, primary school, and secondary school levels. The resource packages also provide suggestions about how best to support teachers’ wellness and professional development during this uncertain time.

While these resources have been specifically developed as an immediate educational response to the COVID-19 crisis, they also offer teachers a lasting portfolio of new innovative, adaptive and creative pedagogical approaches that can be used to help students learn and thrive over the long-term.

Supporting Pre-School Educators to Help Children Learn during COVID-19A curated collection of 12 practical teaching tips for pre-primary teachers, 25 offline and online teaching resources to help young children’s learning and psychosocial wellbeing, and 10 recommendations for pre-primary learning improvement programming during COVID-19.

Supporting Primary School Educators to Help Students Learn during COVID-19A curated collection of 11 practical teaching tips for primary school teachers, 50 offline and online teaching resources to help primary school-aged students’ learning and psychosocial wellbeing, and 12 recommendations for primary school education improvement programming during COVID-19.

Supporting Secondary School Educators to Help Students Learn during COVID-19A curated collection of 10 practical teaching tips for secondary school teachers, 50 offline and online teaching resources to help older students’ learning and psychosocial wellbeing, and 10 recommendations for secondary school education improvement programming during COVID-19.

Supporting Educators’ Wellbeing and Professional Development during COVID-19A curated collection of 11 tips, 32 offline and online resources to support educators’ wellbeing and professional development, and 10 recommendations for teacher support.

How to Create an ‘Inclusive Learning Environment’ – new video courses for educators with supplemental professional development support

As we know, during COVID-19, educators are being asked to create more inclusive learning environments where students feel welcome, safe, and secure – both through remote learning and upon re-entry into schools after lockdown. In response, AKF has developed three new free online courses that help educators gain new ideas, skills and strategies about how to lead more inclusive learning environments from real-life examples around the world.

These new online video-based courses walk educators through AKF’s newly published Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment Guide that was co-designed with professionals from around the world to train educators about how to integrate pluralism and ethics within their classroom teaching contexts. In particular, the courses equip educators with new instructional strategies about how to better promote a more positive emotional classroom climate to address individual student needs; a key area of focus for the future of teaching and learning in the COVID-19 compliant era of education for all.

As remote learning continues while other schools reopen, we know that creating an inclusive learning environment in which students feel welcome and secure has never been more important.

You can learn more about the launch of the free online training video courses during COVID-19 for educators here. Click here for a Classroom Guide on Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment. Videos are also available.

Supporting Schools

Designing New Solutions

In response to what ‘back to school’ will look like – and how might schools redesign the future of teaching and learning to equip learners with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to navigate an increasingly uncertain world – partners across AKF’s Schools2030* programme (a 10-year action research and learning improvement programme working with 1000 pioneering pre-schools, primary schools, and secondary schools across 10 countries) are engaged in a bold, first-of-its-kind 12-week design thinking course. With educators, practitioners, and professors from around the world taking part, they are committed not only to finding new solutions to the problems COVID-19 from the bottom-up, rather than the top down but also about how educators can become designers of new ways of more relevant teaching and learning approaches.

Design thinking is no longer a luxury for the future of education, but rather a necessity; thereby empowering educators, families and students themselves, to lead a more inclusive and equitable approach to relevant quality learning for all. Following the 12-week course, AKF partners will begin working with 1000 schools to roll-out similar offline and online design thinking capacity development to address the emerging gaps in learning across its multi-country portfolio.

Read more about this work here: ‘Designing new solutions to support children’s learning during COVID-19’

Click here for a video of a time-lapse of the HCD webinar. The anonymous cursors represent 35 people from 10 countries working together to find the best ways to support families and educators to help children learn during COVID-19.

Country Level Education Programme Responses to COVID-19

At the country level, AKF has also co-adjusted existing financial and technical resources and developed new partnerships to respond to the COVID-19 related challenges for the future of teaching and learning, including, but not limited to:

  • Ensuring quality education for more than 150,000 at-risk girls in Afghanistan in partnership with the UK government, Save the Children, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, AKES, and Roshan Technologies;
  • Enabling more than 50,000 children learn through play in Kenya in partnership with the LEGO Foundation;
  • Promoting more gender responsive and pluralistic education systems in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda benefiting millions of learners, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada;
  • Supporting adolescent girls’ well-being and educational success in partnership with World University Service Canada and Global Affairs Canada;
  • Strengthening new social and health support systems for early childhood development in Central Asia benefiting hundreds of thousands of at-risk children in partnership with Global Affairs Canada;
  • Providing psychosocial wellbeing and mental health support to children and their families in partnership with UNICEF in Pakistan.
  • Partnership with the Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI) in East Africa to further develop the capacity of civil society organisations in education about how to leverage design thinking to improve quality teaching and learning during COVID-19.

Together, AKF remains committed to building new opportunities to best support teachers, families and communities during this time to help children learn against all the odds. We continue to search for new solutions, listen to those who are on the frontlines, and co-develop relevant innovations that will make a lasting and sustainable impact for all.

Upcoming New Support Resources for COVID-19

Over the next six months, AKF will remain committed to listening to the local challenges related to COVID-19 and co-designing relevant solutions that can go to scale across multiple geographies.

In July, AKF will release further guidance for educators on practical pedagogical approaches to adapt and adopt for when working with students when schools reopen. In August, a new portfolio of locally designed solutions to help students learn during COVID-19 will be presented and funded from the Schools2030 consortium of partners, thereby generating new evidence about ‘what works’ to improve learning outcomes during this uncertain time. Then from September to December, AKF plans to be supporting the network of schools within its Schools2030 programme to expand its design thinking curriculum and begin providing flexible response fund grants to support locally-rooted and globally-informed solutions to support the continuity of learning against all odds.

Thank you, we look forward to updating you in the coming months.

*Schools2030 is a AKF’s new globally informed, locally rooted 10-year longitudinal action research and learning improvement programme working with 1000 pioneering pre-schools, primary schools, and secondary schools across 10 countries, searching for and supporting positive deviance about ‘what works’ to improve holistic quality learning for all. All of the resources detailed in this article can be found on the Schools2030 website here.