How to save a generation nearly lost due to bad policies?

IPA has been part of the Worldwide Commission to Educate All Kids Post-Pandemic for over two years, but the first opportunity to meet in person was only at the end of July this year only. The Institute For 21st Century Questions hosted the first Global Summit of Commission members – following several virtual events – with an interested and committed audience also present in Toronto, Canada on 29-30 July.

When we joined the initiative, we were already involved in some collaborations for 21st century education for all children, learning also from the school closure period. Our activities have been based on our global initiative New Education Deal – Parents First that triggered these collaborations.

The aim of the initiative is to provide some kind of solution for the millions of children they define as ‘third bucket’ kids. The ‘first bucket’ is children who continued their regular formal education after school closures of various length, the ‘second bucket’ is children who receive “formal” or curricular education, but not in the regular form: home-schooled, participate at school digitally or in non-regular schools. The most problematic group is the ‘third bucket’ that is also called NEETs (not in employment, education or training). Not only their basic right to education is violated, but their future is also at stake. In some areas, even in developed countries like the UK or Canada, it can be every fourth or fifth child that never returned to school after the closures, and are often totally off the radar.

In the Summit, there were several testimonials from educators coming from all over the world from Jamaica to Uganda. Some countries are facing more severe problems with restrictions being in place for longer periods, often for over a whole school year.

Nevertheless, we know from research that countries with shorter restriction periods also need to tackle the same issue. The participants were focusing on trying to find solutions for these children and also for offering them formal or non-formal education that is meaningful for them and that is essential for a bright future.

There was also a lot of discussion on the mental health and well-being aspects, and a very strong message was sent by educators and participating health and epidemiology experts alike that a global misconduct that was in place for a virus that was known to be not dangerous for children – while it was also clear from early on that children do not play any substantial role a role in transmission, and that other measures such as masks and forced chemical sanitisation  were indeed dangerous for health – should never happen again. This is very much in line with our messages over 2020-2022 based on the advice our special advisory board has given us – pretty much in line with supressed expert voices coming to the forefront nowadays that the first official inquiries are taking place about political or even criminal responsibility.

We had the opportunity to introduce our work on open schooling that seemed to be a new approach for most participants from non-European countries. We used the opportunity to promote tools such as the Advocacy Toolkit we developed in PHERECLOS. A Canada-based initiative related to the Global Commission, Project Youth Energy is a mentoring programme that will hopefully be able to utilise the training materials and general approach of our award-winning Parent’R’Us programme.

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