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The global pandemic has had and will continue to have far-reaching impact on children’s learning and wellbeing around the world—the magnitude of which can’t be overstated. At same time, the crisis has provided opportunities to consider how to truly disrupt education systems – forcing us to re-think how, who and where learning is delivered. While the immediate and longer-term repercussions should not be minimized, there are also examples emerging about ways in which the pandemic may “leapfrog” and accelerate scaling innovations in education. Rebecca Winthrop, co-director and senior fellow, and Jenny Perlman Robinson, senior fellow, at the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic may provide opportunities for greater experimentation, innovation and scaling in global education, ultimately leading to large-scale transformational change in children’s learning, particularly for those most marginalized.

Rebecca will discuss her recent piece co-authored with Emiliana Vegas titled Beyond Reopening Schools: How education can emerge stronger than before COVID-19She will share her perspective on the possible “silver linings” (pun intended) of the global pandemic, including the opportunity for education systems around the world to leapfrog, or accelerate progress.  Jenny will draw from the experiences of partners in Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Philippines, and Tanzania and their herculean efforts to ensure learning continuity in the face of the pandemic—how they are rapidly adapting and, in some cases, expanding the impact of initiatives ranging from primary to secondary to teacher professional development. In particular, Jenny will reflect on where the pandemic might enable or accelerate scaling, including the potential to address historic inequities in access and quality of education, bring in new education allies, reconsider the role technology can play, and encourage greater experimentation alongside iterative learning.

More about the guests below the video.


Episode Guests

Rebecca Winthrop is a senior fellow and co-director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Her research focuses on education globally, with special attention to the skills young people need to thrive in work, life, and as constructive citizens. Dr. Winthrop works to promote quality and relevant education, including exploring how education innovations can leapfrog progress, particularly for the most marginalized children and youth.  Prior to joining the Brookings Institution in June 2009, Dr. Winthrop spent 15 years working in the field of education for displaced and migrant communities. As the head of education for the International Rescue Committee, she was responsible for the organization’s education work in over 20 conflict-affected countries. Winthrop has authored numerous articles, reports, books, and book chapters, including most recently Leapfrogging Inequality: Remaking Education to Help Young People Thrive with Adam Barton & Eileen McGivney, and Millions Learning: Scaling Up Quality Education in Developing Countries with Jenny Perlman Robinson.

Jenny Perlman Robinson leads CUE’s efforts to build the evidence and produce practical guidance for scaling innovative initiatives through the Millions Learning project. In the first phase of the project (2014-2017), CUE conducted applied research through 14 case studies to discover how policies and programs that have improved learning in low- and middle-income countries have gone to scale. This work resulted in the seminal report, “Millions Learning: Scaling up quality education in developing countries”, which has been used to inform strategies, approaches, and frameworks for multilateral institutions, NGOs, foundations, academia, and think tanks around the world. In response to gaps identified in the report, CUE has launched phase two of the project with five Real-time Scaling Labs, a participatory action research project in partnership with local institutions in a number of countries, including Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, the Philippines, and Tanzania, to generate more evidence and provide support and guidance for the scaling process and systems change in real-time, strengthening the link between research and practice.