This pandemic has been an opportunity for EAA to strategize with empathy as we targeted organizations whose beneficiaries’ education have been adversely impacted not just by COVID-19, but also by the circumstances that have rendered them unable to succeed academically, not least of which is the lack of parental support. In our effort to identify organizations that have designed effective solutions to these challenges, we discovered that the COVID-19 pandemic-related school closure was just one incident in a long series of unfortunate events that disrupt the education of many learners. We became more acutely aware of the need for a variety of learning ecosystems that are custom-built for the different circumstances and contexts. With this in mind, we began profiling innovative organizations and alternative learning systems – all of which were already deeply ingrained into the communities of the learners, designed for their unique contexts and developed to be sustained. This report features 11 case studies of such organizations and initiatives where learning happens in the most marginalized communities regardless of their technological readiness. The report aims to spark inspiration and share the operational details of these initiatives for the benefit of other organizations struggling to understand this area or attempting to develop similar programs targeting learners in challenging contexts. Acknowledging the many spectrums of digital, parental and teacher readiness, stages of learning, content availability, and costs – we have designed a categorization model that is intended to guide the reader to the program most applicable in their context.
We anticipate that organizations working in places of continued school-closures and partial openings find these ideas and practices adaptable to ensure that learning continues. We also sincerely hope that we become intentional about introducing some of these alternate learning models to build a more inclusive, resilient, and community-based model of learning.