Resilience in the Return to Learning during COVID-19 Country Case Studies and Synthesis Report
In the early stages of the pandemic (mid-2020), USAID identified the opportunity to document COVID-19 responses in the education sector across a range of diverse national contexts. This included emphasis on the ways in which the global pandemic could be viewed as an opportunity to redouble efforts to understand and address the needs of the most vulnerable and to centrally position the education sector among wider national recovery plans and strategies. Accordingly, USAID commissioned case study research to describe and document examples of the return to learning process up to mid-2021 using a strengths-based approach to lines of inquiry and analysis.
Five case study reports were produced to document this Return to Learning process during the first 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Colombia, Georgia, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Zambia. Each case study was completed over the course of five months of interviews with education stakeholders in the respective countries to examine, describe, and analyze the specific localized processes and decision-making of education system stakeholders. All case studies encountered numerous examples of education stakeholders leveraging the expertise, resources, and mechanisms available to them to adapt responses as the pandemic continued. Examples of such actions were identified during the research and are described as “pockets of promise,” as they present opportunities for further engagement and development moving forward in order to maintain or accelerate progress toward education outcomes.
A synthesis report was prepared that both summarizes the Return to Learning plans and processes from the five case studies, and also examines how, based on those findings, USAID’s Education and Resilience Conceptual Framework can be understood in relation to pathways of resilience and vulnerability. While the case studies serve as a small window into a much larger crisis, they nonetheless provide important insights into how we can think about and work toward increased education system resilience.
This research was conducted by GK Consulting, with Gwen Heaner (team leader), Jennifer Flemming, and Julie Chinnery as core team co-researchers, and Ritesh Shah as core team technical advisor. In-country research was conducted by Ana María Restrepo-Sáenz (Colombia), Dr. Natia Andguladze (Georgia), Dr. Bassel Akar (Lebanon), Mofolowake Fadare and Gideon Seun Olanrewaju (Nigeria), and Benny Mwaanga (Zambia).