COVID-19 Response

Education Endures

Protecting the Futures of the World's Most Vulnerable Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

“Education is the only thing that cannot be taken away. It is the key to fulfilling my dreams.” Parbati Girls’ Education Program Participants in Nepal
By the Numbers - Copy with Callout Help Education Endure

By the Numbers: The Impact of COVID-19 on Education

1.5 billion - children and youth out of school globally due to COVID-19

73% - of all students out of school due to COVID-19

186 - countries have primary and secondary schools closed nationwide

All 16 - countries where Room to Read operates have had localized or nationwide school closures

*As of May 2020

Education is a Fundamental Human Right

During this time of crisis, we must protect our students’ right to learn. Only through education can people build the skills and resources they need to best respond to crises like the one our global community is currently facing.

For some students, these closures will only be a temporary shift in their schooling before they’re back on track, but for many in the communities that we serve, this could mean the end of their education.

“The data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will have huge impacts on student learning across the world, but students in low-income countries and those in sub-Saharan Africa will be the most negatively affected. In these countries, governments have been less able to provide remote learning opportunities and guidance to teachers to address student learning needs during the crisis.”

- Brookings report, “School closures, government responses, and learning inequality around the world during COVID-19, Emiliana Vegas, April 14, 2020

Girls are Especially At Risk

“Progress lost takes years to regain. Teenage girls out of school may never return. Gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together.” António Guterres United Nations Secretary-General

A UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on women says, “Evidence from past epidemics shows that adolescent girls are at particular risk of drop out and not returning to school even after the crisis is over.” 

Our Girls’ Education Program participants typically live in low-income, remote areas, making them especially likely to be forced to give up their educations permanently as a result of this crisis.  Girls in precarious financial situations are at higher risk of early marriage, sex trafficking or other forms of exploitation when out of school.  

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Your support will help ensure that education – an enduring gift with the potential to solve many of the world’s greatest challenges – continues within vulnerable communities. Please make a donation to give children around the world the stabilizing power of education during this time of upheaval.
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Our Response to COVID-19

Room to Read is not giving up on our students and we are working towards our mission with even more determination. We understand that there will be both immediate and long-term negative impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This isn’t the first time we’ve assisted countries facing extreme threats to education. We supported education infrastructure after the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and now during the refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

Our team is led by crisis response experts and our staff members live and work in the 16 countries where Room to Read operates. They are local nationals with a deep understanding of complex community needs and cultures, plus strong government relationships that allow us to partner for maximum impact and provide learning using the most powerful tools and media available locally.

Our programs serve as an essential lifeline to the world’s most vulnerable children. To ensure that children in the most remote and low-income areas can continue learning, we’re prioritizing interventions that don’t depend on Internet connectivity – which is largely unavailable is the areas we serve – but human connectivity. Our staff are providing distance learning via channels that are most accessible to low-income children, including telephone, radio and TV broadcasts, and the distribution of hard copies of educational materials.

The Greatest Needs

We are adapting our programs and operations quickly to ensure that children do not lose precious time in their educational journey.

  • Designing new methods to facilitate distance learning, including radio and TV education broadcasting in areas without internet
  • Distributing print materials in local communities
  • Providing mentoring to girls by phone to support them emotionally through the crisis, provide encouragement for continuing their studies at home, keep them informed on how to stay safe and healthy, and help them navigate challenges related to returning to school
  • Revising our Risk and Response Tool, a powerful early warning system that helps our staff identify and immediately act on risk factors for girls who may be forced to cut their education short
  • Expanding our book supply chains, government partnerships and other local relationships to find ways to get books to children who cannot visit libraries
  • Launching our digital learning platform, Literacy Cloud, a rich online library of storybooks sorted by reading level and language, plus read-aloud videos and professional development resources for teachers, children’s book creators, members of the international publishing community, and governments – all for free
  • Preparing to support schools, educators and students to adjust timelines and close any learning gaps when schools reopen
  • Supporting our technological infrastructure that allows us to work remotely and continue to support our programs across the globe
  • Ensuring our financial integrity and transparency by continuing to deliver financial audits in times of office closures

Learn more about our response in India

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Support Our Work

If there’s one lesson from the pandemic, it’s the need to be nimble and adaptable. We are pivoting rapidly to meet the needs of the communities in which we work. This is only possible with your support.

Like many NGOs, we have seen our revenues decline steeply as a result of the cancellation of all annual fundraising events. We are moving quickly to fill the gap and depend on contributions from donors and partners so we can respond to urgent needs in real-time and immediately implement effective programs.

Invest in children's education today.