As many schools in the Northern Hemisphere reopen for a new school year, while anticipating ongoing disruptions given the coronavirus and its variants, many in the Global South remain closed due to lack of access to vaccines. What unites us, however, is worry about the lasting effects of this pandemic for the rising generation of young people — well-placed concerns given stark projections about how many students will never return to school in low-income communities around the world, and about how much learning and social development has been lost. …

EdTech — education technology — has been the “next big thing” in education for more than a decade. As technology has developed and been leveraged in other sectors, many have been waiting for the moment when it would revolutionize education, disrupting the traditional modes of teaching and learning which have barely changed in decades. We might still be waiting, if it weren’t for the COVID pandemic that shut down schools and forced teachers to find other ways of reaching students when they couldn’t be together in classrooms. Indeed, EdTech became for many the only thing that kept kids learning.


The following is an excerpt from an article published as part of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda on January 29, 2021. Read the full article here.

It is high time for international development actors to shift their approach from defining problems and identifying interventions towards developing the agency and leadership of people in developing contexts. Such a change enables affected communities to define their own problems, identify solutions and continuously improve over time.

This change feels more necessary than ever in the midst of calls to fight systemic oppression by elevating the leadership of those in marginalized communities and at a time when economic, education and health resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on local leadership.

Image: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

The pandemic that has disrupted our world and exacerbated its inequities threatens to hold back a generation of young people — young people who, in most cases, we were already failing to equip to navigate an uncertain future. If we make it a priority to learn from the incredible leadership and innovations that have kept many of the most vulnerable children learning during the pandemic, we can ensure today’s young people do not become a left-behind generation.

More than 1.5 billion children have at some point been driven out of school by COVID-19, with half of them out of school for seven months or more. A survey from UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank showed that about about half of students out of school were unable to participate in remote learning. Even in high-income countries, learning opportunities have been severely reduced. In Germany, a survey of parents showed that the time children spent on school-related activities each day when schools were closed was cut in half, from 7.4 to 3.6 hours. …

With 90% of the world’s children having been out of school during this pandemic, what are we discovering about remote learning? Will schools ever be the same? How should we use what we’re learning to reopen schools better? Is online learning the key to educational transformation? Will technology be a force for greater equity, or for exacerbating inequity?

Across Teach For All, our network organizations and their teachers and alumni educators have been working with heart and soul to keep students learning during this unprecedented crisis. …

COVID-19 school closures have affected 90 percent of students around the globe. That’s more than 1.5 billion children and young people. Never before have so many learners been out of school for so long and all at the same time.

For children in the world’s most marginalized communities, this is devastating. They are the least likely to have access to food, clean water, safe spaces, and the equipment and internet access needed for ongoing online learning.

Teach For All is a global network of independent organizations in 53 countries working to ensure that all children can fulfill their potential. Our…

Student speaking about education in the community to members of the Commission on Educational Equity

Across Edgecombe County, North Carolina, an area of 52,000 people about an hour east of Raleigh, community members have been considering this question: What do we want to be true for our students by the time they’re 25?

I know about this endeavor because it involves a married couple, Dan Riley and Erin Swanson, two Teach For America alumni who put down roots in the community. …

Teach For All CEO and Co-Founder Wendy Kopp spoke in late October at the organization’s 2018 Global Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal. More than 400 educators and supporters from over 60 countries gathered at the annual conference to discuss how to further the network’s vision of whole communities enabling all their children to have the education, support and opportunity to shape a better future for themselves and others.

An excerpt of Wendy’s remarks, lightly edited for brevity, is below.

I’m really excited to share with you more about our conference theme and how it fits into our learning journey as a…

From how food is grown to how children read, social entrepreneurs in the non-profit sector are pioneering solutions that challenge existing paradigms and positively impact the lives of millions of people around the world. Entrepreneurs in the for-profit world are doing the same, but they operate in an environment that makes it a lot easier to access the financial capital and expertise necessary to thrive.

That’s what makes corporations that pursue long-term partnerships with pioneering NGOs such a valuable force in advancing social entrepreneurship. …

The 2017–18 school year is coming to a close in the northern hemisphere, and I’m going to remember it for the striking examples of student leadership and activism and how these examples have challenged expectations of young people’s capabilities. They have also challenged my own conception of what educational experiences today’s kids need if they’re going to be equipped to shape a better future for themselves and all of us.

In the United States, hundreds of thousands of young people marched in gun safety rallies in April in Washington, D.C. and in more than 850 sibling marches across the world

Wendy Kopp

Wendy Kopp is CEO and Co-founder of Teach For All — the global network of over 50 independent organizations cultivating their nations’ promising future leaders

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