The spread of the COVID-19 has compelled most countries to impose mandatory, temporary closure of higher education institutions (HEIs) as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, leaving more than 200 million students out of their institutions. Extended closures of HEIs and TVET institutions may cause not only loss of learning in the short-term, but also further loss in human capital and diminished economic opportunities in the long-term. To mitigate the loss of learning, many countries pursued options to utilize open and distance learning (ODL) to manage and cope with the crisis. However, issues of equity, participation, infrastructure, broadband capacity, research, assessment and validation of learning outcomes, quality assurance and accreditation, and pedagogic capacity emerged as immediate challenges. Accordingly, this Issue Note seeks to contribute to the global dialogue and policy debate on issues and challenges in the further promotion of Open and Distance Learning, but also provide practical suggestions to ODL practitioners, researchers, policymakers and distance higher education and TVET managers for the enhancement of ODL.
UNESCO COVID-19 Education Response. Education Sector issue notes. Issue note 5.1