LANGHORNE, PA – U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01),  Mike Quigley (IL-05), and Nita Lowey (NY-17) urged the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to include education and distance learning opportunities for children in USAID’s response to COVID-19. In a letter to USAID Administrator Mark Andrew Green, the lawmakers argued that 1.5 billion student’s education has been interrupted by the pandemic.

In fact, more than 165 countries have implemented nationwide school closures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These closures have disrupted the education of nearly 90 percent of the world’s student population. Implementing education programs that offer distance learning opportunities through self-directed study materials, SMS engagement, community radio, tv, and online instruction would ultimately help children and youth continue their education, connect with their peers, and retain a sense of normalcy.

“Education is one of the most important tools for success in our world. During these uncertain times, we must do whatever we can to protect basic education and learning however we can. Distance learning must be prioritized to help provide quality education to our children. I am proud to partner with my colleagues to fight for this critical service,” said Fitzpatrick, Co-Chair of the Congressional International Basic Education Caucus.

“While these school closures are necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, USAID must take immediate action, so no child’s education is stalled during these difficult and challenging times,” said Quigley, Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional International Basic Education Caucus. “Parents and teachers need access to online tools and resources to continue educating all children, including those with disabilities, while their schools are closed for the unforeseeable future.”

“We must work together to limit the permanent impacts of this pandemic on our children. Supporting distance learning for the 1.5 billion children and youth whose instruction has been suspended as a result of the spread of COVID-19 would be not only a long-term investment in the global economy but also a critical investment in the health and well-being of families around the world. Time and time again we have seen the devastating effects interrupted learning and the loss of instruction time can have on a student’s mental and physical health. It is critical USAID include distance learning in its multi-sector response to COVID-19,” said Lowey.

“We’ve learned from past outbreaks that continued education and distance learning can help children and families cope with the disruption to their daily lives. Including education in USAID’s multi-sector strategic response to COVID-19 will ensure that international education programs provide learning opportunities for vulnerable children and youth who now face a heightened risk of delayed development, exploitation, and drop out,” said Nancy Devine, Co-Chair of the Basic Education Coalition and Senior Vice President of the Education Development Center.

“Innovative approaches to distance learning should be a vital component of our international response to COVID-19,” said Candace Debnam, Co-Chair of the Basic Education Coalition and Executive Director of School-to-School International. “The needs of children and youth are an absolute priority in this time of unprecedented school closures around the world.”

To read the letter, click here.