Coronavirus: UNESCO #LearningNeverStops Signs IPA to New Coalition

In News by Porter Anderson

The 69-nation International Publishers Association joins the fast-growing #LearningNeverStops coalition led by UNESCO to respond to the education crisis developing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay announces the creation of the international #LearningNeverStops coalition. Image: UNESCO

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Setzer: ‘We Are Ready To Play Our Part’
Following a successful start on Thursday to its new “Read the World” program, rolled out in association with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the International Publishers Association (IPA)has announced today (April 3) from Geneva that it is joining UNESCO’s #LearningNeverStops coalition.

The program, based at UNESCO’s hub in Paris, is itself just days old.

Announced on March 26 by UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay, the program is based in the organization’s estimate that more than 1.5 billion “learners”—meant to include students of all kinds and ages—are being impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19’s spread to as many as 172 countries.

“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” Azoulay said last week in rolling out the program. “Partnership is the only way forward. This coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity.”

Azoulay’s full statement, on video, is available here.

One of the agency’s main concerns has to do with inequities in tech responses to the crisis’ damage to school programs. “Equity is the paramount concern,” UNESCO’s staffers write, “because closures disproportionately hurt vulnerable and disadvantaged students who rely on schools for a range of social services, including health and nutrition.”

Azoulay has partnered with Angelina Jolie, the celebrity envoy to the High Commission for Refugees on the #LearningNeverStops coalition’s kickoff, with private-sector support from Microsoft, GSMA, Weidong, Google, Facebook, Zoom, KPMG, and Coursera. Among philanthropic organizations signing on are Khan Academy, Dubai Cares, Profuturo, and Sesame Street.

And IPA’s engagement falls under the category of multilateral organizational partners, which include the International Labor Organization; the World Bank; the World Food Programme; the International Telecommunication Union; the Global Partnership for Education; Education Cannot Wait; the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and the Asian Development Bank.

BBC World has joined as a news media member of the coalition.

Setzer: ‘We Can Help All Students’

UNESCO’s #LearningNeverStops coalition is making an effort to map educational distribution in the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The map is interactive and includes a time-lapse feature. You can access it here

In his comments on the IPA’s decision to join the coalition, the association’s president Hugo Setzer in Mexico says, in part, “We are ready to play our part, together with UNESCO and other coalition members, to help ensure learning and education for all young people in these challenging times.

An educational publisher, himself, in Mexico City, Setzer is well-positioned to understand how much of the academic sector’s capabilities may be called into play as the effort continues to take many curricula out of the classroom and into the home.

“We’re convinced,” he says, “that we can contribute to help all students to reach their potential, gain the skills they need to face their learning challenges, and to think critically as productive members of society.”

We’ll embed a video of Setzer’s full statement below. Leaders of the various parties joining the coalition have contributed video statements about the effort, and you can find them collected. here.

Wilmar Diepgrond, chair of IPA’s Educational Publishing Forum (EPF), also has made a statement on the coalition’s work, saying, “Education is a fundamental right that we cannot leave paralyzed during these months of uncertainty. This coalition will allow pupils to continue learning despite being quarantined at home.

“But alternative formats will not be enough if we can’t maintain the quality of education. Publishers have a vital role within this coalition to keep the level and standards of education as high as possible. There’s no one formula for quality education because each learning community will need different books, learning solutions, tools and materials to overcome the particular challenges that they’ll be facing.

“Now more than ever, educators need choice and local solutions, and educational publishers are ideally placed to collaborate and help provide this.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on the International Publishers Association is here. more from us on education is here, and more on the coronavirus pandemic is here.

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.