The pandemic has set the world back in so many ways. In this special, two-part episode, Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman look at the damage inflicted on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The world had been making real progress toward the goals, which include eradicating poverty, educating everyone, providing health care for all and equity for women and girls. But in the space of a few months the progress has been reversed on everything from vaccinations to literacy. In Part one, Henrietta Fore of UNICEF describes the crisis for children and for the SDGs overall. Melissa Fleming, Under Secretary General of the UN, describes the opportunity to embrace the lesson of the pandemic: inequity created this crisis. Building back a more equal world will help prevent the next one. Edie also visits with students in India and Uganda to hear how they have tried to keep their education going through the lockdowns. At the peak of the pandemic, 1.6 billion children were out of school. Unicef warns that a generation is being lost through school closures. Rose Beaumont from our sponsor Mastercard describes how women entrepreneurs are the bedrock of our societies’ economies and are helping to build back better.
Melissa Fleming is Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications at the United Nations, having taken up the post in September 2019. Ms. Fleming previously served the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) as its Head of Global Communications and Spokesperson for the High Commissioner for 10 years, and before that worked in senior communications roles for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She is author of the book, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea, and host of the award-winning podcast, Awake at Night.
Henrietta Fore became executive director of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, on January 1, 2018. Previously she served as the administrator of USAID and director of the United States Foreign Assistance (as the firrst woman to serve in these roles), managing billions of dollars in assistance annually, including support to people and countries recovering from disaster. Prior to this appointment, Fore served as Under Secretary of State for Management, the COO of the Department of State, under President George W. Bush. She also served on the boards of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Aspen Institute among others.
Nanyonjo Catherine Desire is 13 years old and a Primary Seven candidate at Kiwolera Army Primary School in Kamuli Municipality, Kamuli District, in Uganda’s Eastern region. Desire is one of 13 children, aged between 7 and 20 that are single-handedly taken care of by their grandmother, Nabirye Zubedha.
Sonam was born and raised in Ladakh and attended university in Delhi. He graduated with a degree in engineering in (year?). Most recently he was attending classes in buddhism and philosophy in Delhi, but these classes were cancelled in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Now he is living at home in Leh, Ladakh and preparing to take the civil service exam.
Zoya was born and raised in Ladakh, but attends high school in New Delhi. She is currently in year 12 and is learning remotely from home in Leh.
I am from a small village called Shang in Ladakh region from India. I was born in 1990 when traditional way of life was very much alive in my village. I grow up there learning traditional value of life and community ties were part of everyday activities. In 2000 i came to Leh for my higher education and in 2012 i was graduated. In 2014 i went to Delhi for my PhD.PhD Student at Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida Area of study: History of Buddhism, Ladakh and Himalayas
Rose Beaumont is senior vice president, Business Enablement and Communications for Mastercard.
In this role, Ms. Beaumont leads all internal and external communications, business experience, interaction and amplification for Mastercard throughout Europe and internationally.
Focused on delivering integrated solutions and experiences that drive business performance, enhance reputation and brand and drive engagement and understanding across all audiences, Ms Beaumont combines excellence in thought leadership and strategic vision with creative execution and story-making.
Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Beaumont was with The Walt Disney Company, where she was most recently executive director of brand and franchise for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Prior to that, she was director of communications for Yahoo! Europe. Ms. Beaumont also brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles leading diverse, global teams and driving creativity and strategic thinking.
A passionate believer in the power of communications, her expertise lies in helping a brand connect with its many audiences in creative and innovative ways.
Henrietta Fore (00:04):
When COVID-19 hit over 1.6 billion children found themselves out of school.
I missed many things. I missed my friends. I missed my teachers. I missed it at school.
Shazia Malik (00:18):
You used to like annoy the teachers and ask them like thousands of times to repeat the same thing over and over again. But then you cannot do it in online classes.
Zoya Majeed (00:26):
I came home for like seven days, and then I got stuck for seven months.
Melissa Fleming (00:31):
COVID not only exposed these inequalities in around the world, but also exacerbated them. And what we’re saying now is the sustainable development goals are needed more than ever.
This is the Global Goalscast.
The podcast that shows how we can change the world. In this episode, the crisis of the SDGs, how do we put the world back on track to achieve the global goals?
This is so important.
So we are doing something very special. This is the first part of an expanded two part episode on the global goals. In this episode, we set the stage in part two, we discuss the future with key leaders.
Before the pandemic, we knew we needed the 2020s to be the decade of actions. But after the pandemic, we need those actions to be bigger, bolder, faster than anything we could have imagined! The global health crisis has triggered a global economic crisis, which is now a political crisis, too.
That is right. We are going to look at the damage, how far we’ve been setback, but also, Claudia, we’re going to hear how compassion, partnership and an old-fashioned radio can all be part of building better.
And here at the Global Goalscast, you know, we love building better.
We’re going to have all of that, but first a word about the people who make Global Goalscast better, or even possible.
This episode of Global Goalscast is brought to you by MasterCard. MasterCard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere.
At Mastercard we see women entrepreneurs as the absolute bedrock of the economies of our societies. We know when a woman thrives, economies and societies grow.
Thanks also to CBS News Digital.
Welcome back. Claudia, I am really glad to see you, even though it’s digitally. 2020 has been dark and painful.
I’m glad to see you too, Edie. It’s been really the worst year of my life. And I think that for the world, it’s been a hard, hard, hard year. The goalkeepers report from the bill and Melinda Gates foundation and our partners of Project Everyone described how we have lost ground in so many areas – eradicating poverty, improving shelf, educating women and girls.
And of course progress is not all we’ve lost. Many of us have lost, loved ones. And Claudia I am so sorry about your mom. She put up one heck of a fight.
Oh my God. I know. I know. Thank you, Edie. Thank you. My mom got COVID at the beginning of the year and was hospitalized 169 days. And all the time giving really a fight and not letting fear, you know, like go in the way. And she was fighting and fighting and every day was a big battle until she lost two months ago. But at the end of the day, I think that the big lesson that she left all of us is that you have to love life so much and you want to hang onto it and you want to fight for everything you dream. So thank you.
Wow. Fighting for everything you dream hope, inspiration really important right now, I was really inspired the other day, when you introduced Henrietta Fore the Leaders on Purpose Summit.
Henrietta Fore is such a champion generally, but now she’s such a leader for UNICEF. She, Henrietta, never let the scale of a challenge. discourage her. And she does it with such a grace. But Henrietta never shrinks from describing the challenge. Listen to Henrietta Fore describe the impact of this year on the most vulnerable of us, children.
Henrietta Fore (04:45):
Nearly every part of a child’s life has been affected by COVID-19. The pandemic and the measures to confine it like social distancing, confinement, school closures represent nothing less than a children’s crisis. It affects their physical and mental health, their nutrition, their family’s economic status, their education, their ability to grow and develop all of the systems that children rely on. As they grow to adulthood. These systems have been put under enormous strain. It affects the poorest and the most vulnerable, most of all. But COVID-19 is not just a children’s crisis. It also represents a crisis for the Sustainable Development Goals. Even before the pandemic hit, the world was dramatically off track in meeting these goals. COVID-19 has accelerated this. We now face a real risk in the SDGs that their promised to leave no one behind. Could become a casualty of the response to the pandemic. As governments turn the problems to inside their borders, rather than outside their borders, as donors recalibrate their financial priorities in the near term, as businesses like your own worry about the future and communities struggle to rebuild the systems that have been shattered by COVID-19. But we also face at this moment, an opportunity to help communities, to rebuild, to recover and to re-imagine the systems, the children and families need – systems that can reach every person, even the most vulnerable systems that can drive lasting development progress while also helping communities prepare for future disasters and systems that ultimately will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
She really inspired us too, right Edie – call to rebuild, recover, and reimagine was really the inspiration of this episode and for what you did next, Edie.
Exactly. So I wanted to talk to someone who could help us see the whole picture.
Melissa Fleming (07:06):
My name is Melissa Fleming and I lead communications at the UN – Under Secretary General for Global Communications is the formal title.
So during UN General Assembly or Global Goals Week, Henrietta Fore told us that there was a crisis in the Sustainable Development Goals. So I wonder if you could describe that crisis to us?
Melissa Fleming (07:34):
Well, I think there’s a crisis, but there’s also -I have to say I’d rather focus on the opportunity because I think we, we are all in the biggest global crisis since the 75 year history of the UN when COVID hit, because it not only was a global public health crisis, but it very quickly became a socio-economic crisis. And very quickly it exposed exactly what the Global Goals were working on. And that is, you know, trying to address deep inequalities, poverty, injustice, and, you know, different divides out there. So COVID not only exposed these inequalities around the world, but also exacerbated them. So it made the crisis even deeper. And what we’re saying now is the Sustainable Development Goals are needed more than ever. So we’re trying to give them a kind of revival in, you know, we don’t want to go back to where we were before, because where we were before, got us into this terrible place, we want to recover better. And that’s our goal. So we’ve shifted to, you know, moving out of the crisis mode into the what’s possible.
Of course, nothing is possible without getting the pandemic under control. And there has been good news about a vaccine.
Remarkable news. In less than a year, scientists appear to have created effective vaccines to protect against COVID-19. But I asked Melissa what good this incredible scientific achievement would mean if the vaccine wasn’t distributed to everyone.
Melissa Fleming (09:16):
This is a really important question for us at the UN. We have been calling what is needed A People’s Vaccine. That is a vaccine that is safe and effective, but also accessible and affordable to all, no matter where you live and how much money you have. So this is the key. And even if it’s only in the self-interest of the richer world, we’re not safe until everybody is safe. This virus doesn’t care how much money you have or where you live. So we have an interest in getting it to everyone. So there is actually a what’s called the Covax facility, that a number of organizations like WHO and Gavi and others, but together with, you know, big companies and something like 180 countries have pulled together and developed this facility, doing a lot of fundraising for it. So when one of those country’s labs develops the vaccine, then it can be accessible to all of those who are participating in this facility, it’s called. It’s not an actual physical facility. It’s a facility that enables the distribution of the vaccine to everyone participating in the world. So that’s our hope. There is a mechanism, there is a need, and it’s going to be a massive undertaking to get it to people. But it’s interesting to look back into history of how vaccination campaigns were carried out and eradicated diseases in the furthest corners of countries in war zones. So it is possible. And I think there’s a lot of experience in the UN of delivering vaccines to the needy and we’re getting ready and gearing up. And there’s certainly a huge motivation, probably more than we’ve ever seen before.
This will be by far the largest vaccination effort in history. But in our conversation, Melissa Fleming made clear, it was just step one.
Melissa Fleming (11:25):
There has been setbacks that are so devastating in the areas of poverty. I mean, we’re seeing people whose job was what fed the family at night, and then that job you needed to go back the next day in order to feed the family that night again. With the pandemic, with all of the job loss in those kind of hand to mouth sectors, what we’re seeing is growing poverty. We’re seeing increased hunger. We’re seeing more threats of famine. We’re seeing many more girls out of school. And so it’s really, really worrying. So we’re really trying as the UN system, trying to make every effort to push back against these losses, to get the kind of stimulus packages that are coming as a result of COVID.
In the rich world, countries have poured trillions into their economies to cushion the economic blow of COVID, but poor countries don’t have that money. And one goal now is to get the rich world to send some of that stimulus money to the rest.
Melissa Fleming (12:34):
The world is going to go into debt, but let’s make sure that what we give the people of this earth is a chance and a better future. So we’re urging investment in the sustainable development goals in those areas in climate action, in greener recovery, in recovery and areas that are maybe more forward-looking, more innovative, maybe even advance the goals. So that’s our advocacy because we can now say that COVID-19 is not the great equalizer. Every single person on this earth is affected by it because it could get you, you could get sick from it and you could die from it. But if you have enough means you have much better likelihood of getting treatment and surviving. So that’s the health side, but on the economic side, it’s the poor who maybe they won’t die from COVID-19, but they could die from the secondary economic effects of this disease. And that’s what’s really scary.
Melissa is describing the largest vaccine effort in history and the largest effort to transfer wealth from the global rich to the global poor. And those are the emergency short term measures that we need to be taking.
You are so smart. Vaccines, stimulus money, debt relief are all needed to reverse the plunge. But Melissa told me that the secretary general Antonio Gutierrez is looking for even bigger change.
Melissa Fleming (14:07):
He really believes that we need to look at the systems that are governing our world and see why people are falling through the cracks. And so he has been actually tasked by the General Assembly in their 75th Anniversary Declaration to come up with what’s called a Common Agenda for our world. And he’s already with a team at the UN hard at work on this really, you know, to take what we have, the architecture, the blueprints that we have, the global goals, Paris agreement for Climate Action, and also to look at, you know, the kind of global governance system and to see where it all comes together. And, you know, next September to come out with this kind of new roadmap.
Build better at the global scale. The challenge can be daunting – more than a million dead, 54 million infected billions of doses of vaccines, trillions upon trillions of dollars of stimulus money. And that is for those countries that can have those packages, our ability to take it all in, let alone keep caring can be overwhelming.
Melissa gave me such a simple way to think about it.
Melissa Fleming (15:23):
Gandhi once said that compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. And, you know, I believe that, and I think everybody recognizes what COVID-19 has shown us is that we cannot overcome global crises alone, that we need to recognize the suffering of others. And we need to try to exercise our muscles of compassion so that we can feel for the plight of others, but also think about what actions we could take to help others and to make others’ lives better. You can do this on a macro scale and you can do it on an individual scale. And what I personally believe is, you know, the exercise of compassion, the kind of daily exercise of compassion and what that leads to is actually extremely gratifying, and choosing actions that have purpose and, and result in, you know, doing something good for other people is something that’s going to make us all happier.
Huh? Make compassion go viral. I love that. That is exactly what our mission is at Global Goalscast, isn’t it, Edie?
Yeah. And we’re going to keep making that our mission cause we’re going to be launching our fourth year in January.
Telling the stories of the champions making a difference. Yeah, baby!
And I talked about that with Melissa, who is very focused on getting the vast communication systems of the UN to share human stories and not just dense reports.
She’s quite good at that. Her experience with refugees probably helped her to shape that angle of storytelling at the very human level.
She also told me she has done a lot of thinking about how people respond to the media, to the kind of news we get. If there is nothing but doom and gloom, people turn away. The need for hope, For answers is universal.
Absolutely Edie. In my times of working for the United Nations,UNICEF, and so on, we always have that discussion about the percentage of urgency and hope, so it wouldn’t be 70% hope, 30% urgency, would it be -. The time in which, which you had flyers of children, you know, like starving runny noses and flies in the eyes are gone. People need hope and need to understand what is the winning path and want to be part of a winning team. That’s why we try hard here at the Global Goalscast to get out in the field and to look at successful stories and to look at our goals and our challenges at the human scale.
So when we come back, we’re going to look at the challenge of fully achieving the SDGs by looking closely at one of them – education. We’re going to visit with students in Uganda and India. And as a bonus, you’ll get to hear about my own misery as a mother, trying to get my kids to study remotely.
I can’t wait for that one? But first this,
Rose Beaumont (18:31):
My name is Rose Beaumont, and I am Senior Vice President of Business Enablement and Communications at MasterCard. So the MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs is a fantastic study. It’s an annual report. This year, it’s fourth edition that really provides us those vital insights into what helps and what hinders women’s progress as business owners. It covers 58 world economies and represents nearly 80% of the world’s women’s labor force.
What are the key things that this report highlights?
Rose Beaumont (19:05):
The MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs really looks to not only understand of the 58 countries, you know, where the winners are, where the opportunities and the need to focus is, but in 2020 being an extraordinary year, we also supplemented the data that we usually bring in with an understanding of what impact the pandemic has had on women. Women are disproportionately affected by the pandemic that whilst global disruption has demonstrated that there is adaptability and resilience in the face of hardship, there is still the need for us to look at gender specific support. We are seeing women inspired by female leaders, how inspirational it can be to have female leaders be so front and center instilling order, insurance, trust and calm. We’re seeing everyone start to realize that when women flourish societies grow and so an additional focus being put on the environment for women in business and women, entrepreneurs is beneficial for all parts of society and the economy.
If you’d like to learn more about the MasterCard Report on Women Entrepreneurs, you can check out our website. We will put the link on this episode’s page.
Thank you. Thank you, Edie. You know, we speak all the time on Global Goalscast, about the global goal four – education for everyone. By the way, Edie, do you know when I was working at the office of the Secretary General on launching the Sustainable Development Goals, we had this dream that people actually would know their goal by number. So there you go. So education is number four.
What about, Edie, improving health?
Number one. No, two.
No! Okay. I’ll give you one.
I know climate change is thirteen.
Number one – eradicating poverty. Number one. Achieving gender equity.
Eso! Improving health is number six and it’s all good. So my dream come true would be that you and I can know the 17 goals and we know exactly what to say. So even if you have two tequilas under your skin, you can say, if someone poke you, what is climate change on the water? And you can say it.
But education is key and fundamental for everyone, it’s fundamental because achieving this goal pushes us forward on every other goal – whether eradicating poverty, number one, improving health number six, achieving gender number five, but as Henrietta Fore explained to us, right now, we are going backwards.
Henrietta Fore (21:46):
When COVID-19 hit over 1.6 billion children found themselves out of school. It reminded us that we need nothing short of a revolution in how the world delivers learning education skills and training. The growth and availability of technology means that we can deliver learning opportunities anywhere to children living in conflict zones or refugee camps, to urban and rural areas alike. Unfortunately more than half the world’s children and young people are on the wrong side of the digital divide. They do not have the connectivity they need, putting them at a huge disadvantage. This is not only a tragedy for the children affected, the world bank estimates a loss of US dollars10 trillion in earnings over the lifetime of this current generation of children if we fail to address the global learning crisis. In short, we urgently need to re-imagine education.
So we went to Uganda to see how one community was coping using technology that’s 125 years old
Mr. Henry (23:01):
Afternoon class. I am the teacher for your radio lessons, and you at home are my class today. The radio is a good tool because it is regularly available.. But the challenge in Uganda is that the biggest percentage of the population are farmers. The time when the students are supposed to be in the garden digging with their familiar members is the same time when the running program is running on the radio. So she has to do two things at once – digging as well as listening to the radio. And the other challenge is that family members, like the sisters and the brothers might want to listen to music instead.
If I want to listen to the lesson, then another comes – Desire, also give me the radio. I want to listen to music, bring it, Desire give me the radio.
That’s Nanyonjo Catherine Desire, and before that her teacher, Mr. Henry, talking about how they use radio alongside newspapers to keep up with education during the pandemic. Desire is 13 years old and in her final year at Kiwalera Army Primary School in Kamuli, Uganda. Desire, thank you so much for joining us.
What happened during COVID? How much school did you miss?
I missed many things. I missed my friends. I missed my teachers. I missed it at school.And I missed using the devices. Because I was at home, I was not using them.
Tell me, what did you do to keep up with your studies during COVID-19?
I have been studying using radios, newspapers.
So in September Desire’s school reopened, but her family could no longer pay her fee. School let her back anyway to board and to stay safe from COVID. Other families, however, did not see the value in doing this, Desire told me, she said they kept their kids home to do the housework or to help with farming. “Will they eat the computer?” she said, parents ask. “Will they eat education?” Have all of your friends come back to school after COVID-19?
No, I’ve not been able to because their parents say that I don’t have money. In this lockdown they have not been working. So you stay here at home for this year. You will be go next year. That has made children to drop out of school.
That must be hard. How many of your friends had to drop out?
Five of them.
I’m very sorry about that.
Because of money.
During COVID, how early did you get up in the morning? When you lived at your grandmother’s house?
We used to wake up at six am. We go to the garden, we come back at 1:00 PM.
Then what do you do
If it is my turn to cook, I cook. If it’s not mine, I was the utensils. If it’s not mine, I mop the house. And sometimes if I finish my work at home, I got school andI study some.
So her first meal of the day is lunch. And by the way, she’s not talking about spending the morning, tending the roses in some kind of English countrygarden. By garden she means working in the field on the maize, millet seed and cassava to feed 13 kids and Desire’s grandmother. Sometimes she takes her lessons with her into the garden.
We dig, and sometimes we go with the radio. You tell the grandmother, “Grandmother, let us take the radio to the garden so that we can learn about something which you don’t know.”
Did you take your exams last year?
No. We were just going to take them.
And what will you do next year?
Next year, if I perform well, I go to secondary.
Okay. So this is your last year of primary school. And when are your exams
In March 2021.
And how do you feel about the exams next year? Do you feel like you are going to be ready?
Yes. I feel that because we are doing much work so that we can be prepared. If you in the lesson, you can learn more from others and we can teach ourselves. If I don’t know the other thing, my friend can tell me. If she doesn’t know, I tell her and we cooperate.
The Ugandan government reopened school for Desire and other kids who are due to take their exams. For everyone else school is still closed.
That means a lot of lost schooling.
And it’s striking how similar the stories are all around the world.
It was very hard, like screen time was also like too much you know, you have to sit on one place and then listen all the time. And you don’t even get to interact with like other, your friends or whatsoever.
I don’t know how to compare school or online classes because there is no network sometimes. So we are not able to attend.
It may be okay if you are teaching for one hour, but if you say you have to go through online for four hours. It is really hard for them, they are not able to concentrate.
Oh, it was the worst experience. Like, um, like we used to stay in home only and mentally like, or distractions. And like, I got anxiety as well because of this
Online learning is the pits. You just heard it there from students, Zoya Majeed, Jigmet Angmo and Shazia Malik, as well as teacher Stanzin Mingyur all from Ladakh in India.
Edie I can so feel their pain. And it’s crazy because my kids here in New York are also having problems with online learning. They hate it, they are getting used to screens as opposed to people. And yet they are able to have connections. They have a router, they have a computer, they have wifi. And for so many kids around the world, it’s not only that they hate it, and the screen and the lack of social – it’s that they cannot have online learning because they aren’t online. Even in America, Latinos, the US Hispanic population -only 16% of the Latino population, 60 million people is adequately equipped to either work from home or be learning at home. And in so many instances, there’s one router and one computer. And guess what is the parents who take it so that they can work. So the kids actually go left. And let’s remember these big figure. There’s only half of the kids around the world that are online. So the risk of bridging and engaging in a bigger digital divide is the real, and is there. What do you think Edie?
I mean, I think that my son just got sent home for two weeks because some kid in his class has COVID and he’s got enormous exams coming up and he’s really bummed about it. On the other hand, he can do Microsoft Teams. I know he’s going to be okay. And I also know that kids are resilient and they find ways to cope.
During a pandemic time, I have the very worst experience. I can say mentally I was not prepared for this. And I was in last year. It was really a crucial state I can say, last year. And pandemic was also there. Mentally I was so distracted at the time. Like I couldn’t concentrate on my studies as well. And far away from your parents, that was also disturbing.
And how did you find focus? Because you’ve come through, right? You did your exam. So how did you get there?
Yeah, like I can say when I was intense or like when the situation is going, uh, ups and downs I used to watch Korean dramas.
What Korean drama do you watch?
Any Korean drama.
Okay. I’m going to check them out.
Korean drama, Mexican soap operas –
Well, I do yoga to cope. But Edie you talked to one Ladakhi student who suggested going deeper?
So Sonam Gyurmet is studying for the Indian civil service exam. This is an exam, by the way, that can really change your life depending on how you score. And Sonam has found another way to ease the stress.
I was reading one text two century Buddhist master. He was from India. He was a Nalanda Master. If you know, Nalanda is a very, very ancient university in Bihar, India, and there’s so many scholars, good scholar. And one of them, one of them was a Shanti Deva. He had a text called, a Guide to the Buddhist Way of Life. And there’s a chapter called Patience Chapter. One, one verse is like, “If something can be done, then why are you worried? And if there’s a remedy or there’s a solution for something, then we not need to be stressed out.” You know, it will work. It will eventually be all settled down. And in the next verse is, “If there’s no solution, if there’s no remedy, if you cannot do anything about it, there’s no need to stress it anyway.” There’s no solution. There’s no looking forward. Why you are stressing about it. So these kind of verses where like, I’ve been studying and that helped me quite a lot.
Oh, we have so much work to do. Take online learning. Yes, it’s been the pits, but we also have to learn how to do things in new ways to adapt. Think about education. Even before the pandemic, it was failing so many. One child in five wasn’t even in school and millions of other kids in school were unable to read or perform basic math.
And that was when things were getting better. As Henrietta Fore says COVID-19 has caused the largest mass disruption of education in history.
I agree with her. Well, I agree with her in almost everything. But a whole generation has lost months in education. It reminds me of the time when we started looking at no lost generation coming from refugee children, for example, from Syria that were also, you know, were learning about the fear and fear of flight and, and having an impact in their brains and not being able to learn about math or hardcore sciences or reading and everything. These are things that will affect children’s education for months and yet affect generations for years.1.6 billion learners were out of school at the peak of the pandemic. And of course those disruptions Edie are not over.
Disruption, definitely not over. And when I spoke to Zoya Majeed, she really captured the way learning can get lost, particularly on a hard topic like physics.
Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard. Like there are things which I don’t understand.
My son has found it tough when he was home, especially physics. He found that there were some subjects that they did during lockdown, online learning, that he just did not get. And he has his final exams coming up next year.
Same. Your son and me are same.
So he’s found that there’s some subjects that parts of them he’s much further behind. Some are okay. But some of them, he just never quite learned.
Same. With me also physics is like the hardest, like, I don’t understand anything like that is so hard. But then in school it was fine. Like you used to like annoy the teachers and ask them like thousands of thousands of time, like to repeat the same thing over and over again. But then you cannot do it in online classes, like during online classes.
Speaker 8 (36:25):
Yeah. And it’s pretty distracting also, like you have all your internet, your phone and all, and you’re taking online classes where using YouTube or WhatsApp, so that’s pretty distracting also.
What do you do? Do you have your phone next to you?
Speaker 8 (36:40):
Yeah. Most of the time
Your parents don’t make you turn it off?
Speaker 8 (36:46):
They do, they scold me all the time. But then yeah.
Yeah, we have a rule it has to stay outside your room, the phone.
Distance learning can be an opportunity to get more kids into learning. But the world will have to learn how to do distance learning much better.
Yep. We are just beginning to process this whole experience. And for me, it was really striking when I spoke to Zoya, she expressed the same sense of uncertainty that I’d been feeling
Right now, even I’m thinking of doing it, but then, yea let’s see what then like though, like it depends upon the exams also, like what will happen? Like, because you never know, things are so unpredictable right now.
Gosh, you sound like me. Everything I say is what you’re saying. Everything is so unpredictable. I don’t, I don’t know how to look past today really.
I came home for like seven days and then I got stuck for seven months.
For me, it was amazing to talk to a high school student in Leh who I don’t have a whole lot in common with, and we were saying the same words to describe COVID. But it’s really important not to get lulled into this false sense of feeling that we’re all in the same boat, right? We’re, we’re not, we may be in the same sea, but we are all living through this in different boats -super yachts versus rafts. We need to recognize that at a deeper level, the divide between rich and poor is getting worse.
Yeah, absolutely. And it is incredible for me to hear so much conversation about COVID and yet not enough depth and the understanding of the implications of how is COVID going to affect education. Education is going to be affected. I mean, we said it before, it was already hitting in the crisis levels. Only one in five kids properly educated and with a younger world, every time we need education to be at the forefront. And now COVID happens. It’s going to be a setback. It absolutely is not going to have a general, like a light impact in the world. We might actually have you know, like a couple of years in which children are not delayed in their education by month, but by years. And when you have a small brain, you can’t actually just like, say like, okay, stop your development brain. Now we’re going to pause it here and you’re going to grow later. Like it will have implications in generations and no one is talking enough about it. I just would like to have more discussion about the impact of COVID in children, in education and how, because of this setback, it’s going to be almost impossible Edie to reach the education goal of the SDGs, the goals that we had for a world in which every kid has a right to have education, particularly for girls is going backwards. And I really think that addressing the local needs is important. Let me give you an example. So with a campaign that we have, the Hispanic Star campaign, we have 30 Hispanic Star hubs. So community gatherings in more than 30 cities all across the country, trying to have Hispanics supporting Hispanics in their needs. But guess what? The needs are different in different places. So we started making a local assessment of the needs. And then we started actually with that needs assessment, we went to companies and said, who can help in this? For many cities, southern Texas, they needed food. COVID has affected Hispanics in food. COVID has affected people in Denver differently. They need money to keep their restaurants open. And so on. Guess what? In New York, the most important need that people had was routers because children were actually not getting access to education.They had already wifi, which is for free. The government allows children to have access to wifi for free, but families in Hispanic areas, such as Bronx and Queens, they only had one router and they could only use that for one person. And therefore the children were not able. So making sure that you understand what are the barriers for education – for some people might be wifi, for some people might be actually a lack of equipment, for some people -and then you can start addressing it and putting in a map and saying, how do I address my education needs? And how can the world through compassion, bring people together to address this issue right now? I would love to see more private sector involvement. And I have the perfect example is IBM that has P-TECH. P-TECH is an educational tool that they are providing for free for everybody, for kids to be able to get education online. They did it in Spanish and they donated it to children in Portuguese for Hispanic children, but all across it’s in different languages. Of course, if you have the software, you have to map it out. Now we need the computers and now, now we need the wifi and now we need the bandwidth and so on. But I think that if we would be talking more about this issue, if we will be talking more about education, and the intersection and the relationship that it has with vaccines, I think it would be a good start.
Fascinating that you mentioned P-TECH. Desire in Uganda, when she goes to school, she’s using a different digital platform. It’s actually called the Kolibri platform and it’s on something called a Mobi Station, which from what I’ve seen from the pictures is like a laptop within a kind of suitcase that has a projector that projects onto the wall for kids to learn. And the amazing thing is that it doesn’t even need the internet. So when the network goes down, there are still lessons embedded on the computer that the kids can learn. She loves it. Her eyes just totally lit up when she started talking about this ability to use computers, to learn, she loves it.
And that’s exactly what we need to do. Getting education back on track is a big deal, but it’s a big deal today and for the generations to come. And we will need everybody, which is why this episode on the crisis of the SDGs comes in two parts. Part two will be our conversation conducted on finding the smart ideas for going forward.
We talked to some pretty clever people. David Navarro from the World Health Organization, Alan Joope from Unilever,
Kate Garvey from Project Everyone. Of course our own Gillian Tette from the Financial Times, Rajesh Michandani from the UN foundation.
And I also loved hearing from Annette Hu of the UN Office for Partnerships.
Bingo, partnerships, a big theme.
Number seventeen. We can’t get out of this alone. So please listen and make sure that you’re subscribed to Global Goalscast so you get it as soon as it drops.
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Adios. See you later.
Global goals cast was hosted by Edie lash and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes. Editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Coope Rider Howard. And thanks to our glorious volunteers. Amanda Friedland Julia Lombardo, Taron Ramy, Daria Valova-Lynch, and Stuart Zuckerman. Music in this episode was by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Krohn, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by MasterCard creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and to our new partners Leaders on Purpose.