July 02, Colombo: The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have formally signed a grant agreement that will see KOICA provide a USD $600,000 (LKR 111.4 million) grant, funding and supporting the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) critical response to COVID-19 in the education sector.
The USD $600,000 grant will support activity that will enable the safe operation of schools and the learning recovery of all children, in line with the planned phased return to school. This work will be delivered by the Ministry of Education (MoE) in collaboration with UNICEF and will specifically include the implementation of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols, the promotion of handwashing in schools, and will support learning recovery through alternate, innovative, learning methods to ensure effective and continuous learning is provided for children who will remain at home until schools are completely reopened for all children.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols and the promotion of handwashing in schools will be implemented through risk communication targeting students, parents and caregivers, the promotion of proper hygiene at schools, the developing, printing and distribution of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material and Safe School Operation guidelines, the installing of age and height appropriate handwashing facilities, and by ensuring the availability of hygiene and IPC supplies.
Speaking at the grant awarding ceremony, Ms. Youn Hwa, Kang, Country Director from KOICA Sri Lanka said: "At a time when the entire world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to commend the Sri Lankan Government’s successful measures to control the spread of COVID-19. And it is my pleasure to say that Korea stands in solidarity with Sri Lanka in these difficult times."
Ms. Emma Brigham, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka added: “We thank KOICA for the timely and critical financial support. This support comes at a significant moment as the government’s phased reopening of schools in being implemented. KOICA’s support will underpin UNICEF’s work with the MoE and partners and help to ensure the safe school return of children and a smooth learning recovery for all. UNICEF will continue to work with the government and partners to ensure the most vulnerable in society, including children and young people overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 situation in Sri Lanka, UNICEF has worked closely with the MoE, other government institutions, and development partners to support the Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery work in the education sector, including supporting the development of an Education Sector Response Plan, as well as carrying out an education rapid assessment. Further, UNICEF has assisted the MoE in developing safe school operation/IPC guidelines and Grade 1 and 2 learning materials, which have been distributed to all Grade1 and 2 students nationwide. Through the MoE UNICEF is also supporting schools with handwashing stations and IPC supplies.
The support from KOICA is the latest phase in an ongoing relationship with UNICEF that has benefited children and communities across the country. Ongoing KOICA support includes, the Educational Environment Improvement Project (2018-2022) in Kilinochchi District aimed at enhancing learning outcomes in 13 schools through hardware and software interventions. Previous support includes the Education Recovery Project in Eastern and Northern Province (2012-2016) which improved school infrastructure, and strengthened the capacities of teachers through teacher trainings, in 24 schools in Ampara, Batticaloa, and Kilinochchi Districts which were highly affected by the 30-year conflict.