Girls' Education and COVID-19: What past shocks can teach us about mitigating the impact of pandemics

  • R Research Project/Report/Study

I Inactive

Key Information

This paper uses insights from previous health and financial shocks to understand how the current global pandemic could affect girls’ education outcomes for years to come. It details how governments and international institutions can mitigate the immediate and longer-term effects of the pandemic on the most marginalised girls. The paper considers the 2014- 15 Ebola epidemic and the 2008 global financial crisis, which both have some parallels to the impact of COVID-19.

Lead Implementing Organization(s)


Global, Sub-Saharan Africa

Liberia, Sierra Leone

Government Affiliation

Non-governmental program


2020 - 2020


Not applicable or unknown

Ministry Affiliation



Not applicable or unknown

COVID-19 Response

New for COVID-19

Areas of Work Back to Top

Education areas


  • Primary completion
  • Primary enrollment
  • Secondary Enrollment
  • Secondary completion


  • Curricula/lesson plans
  • School facilities
  • School quality
  • Teacher training


  • Literacy
  • Numeracy

Cross-cutting areas

  • COVID-19 Response
  • Economic/livelihoods (including savings/financial inclusion, etc.)
  • Emergencies and protracted crises
  • Gender equality
  • WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene)

Program participants

Target Audience(s)

Girls (both in school and out of school)


12 - 17

School Enrolment Status

Some in school

School Level

  • Upper primary
  • Lower secondary
  • Upper secondary

Other populations reached

Not applicable or unknown

Participants include

Not applicable or unknown

Program Approaches Back to Top

Community engagement/advocacy/sensitization

  • Community-based monitoring (e.g. school report cards)
  • General awareness-raising/community engagement


  • Gender-sensitive curricula

Educational Technology

  • Digital devices for the purposes of studying, learning
  • Digital learning materials/programs
  • Digital reading materials (non-textbook)
  • Digital skills/literacy (including coding)


  • Other nutritional supplementation

Life skills education

  • Gender, rights and power


  • Informational interventions (e.g. returns to education)

Policy/legal environment

  • Advocating changes to existing laws/policies

Reducing economic barriers

  • Addressing cost of school supplies
  • Conditional cash transfers (including non-cash goods) to individuals/households
  • Conditional cash transfers to schools
  • Reducing/eliminating school fees
  • Unconditional cash transfers (including non-cash goods) to individuals/households
  • Unconditional cash transfers to schools
  • Vouchers/grants

School-related gender-based violence

  • Support in and around schools (e.g. peer counseling, adult-to-student counseling)

Social/gender norms change

  • Engaging parents/caregivers of students or school-age children/adolescents
  • Work with community leaders


  • Hiring more female teachers
  • In-service teacher training – gender-responsive pedagogy
  • In-service teacher training – pedagogy general
  • Pre-service teacher training – gender-responsive pedagogy
  • Pre-service teacher training – pedagogy general
  • Teacher incentives
  • Teaching materials (e.g. lesson plans, curricula)

Tutoring/strengthening academic skills

  • Literacy - in the classroom
  • Literacy - outside the classroom
  • Numeracy - in the classroom
  • Numeracy - outside the classroom

Water and sanitation

  • Construction/improvement of sex-specific toilets

Women's empowerment programs

  • Advocacy/action

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Program Goals Back to Top

Education goals

  • Improved academic skills (literacy and numeracy)
  • Increased enrolment in primary school
  • Increased grade attainment
  • Increased literacy
  • Increased numeracy
  • Increased primary school completion
  • Increased progression to secondary school
  • Increased re-enrolment in school among out-of-school children
  • Increased secondary school completion
  • Increased secondary school enrolment
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Reduced grade repetition

Cross-cutting goals

  • Changed social norms
  • Increased agency and empowerment
  • Increased knowledge of rights
  • More equitable gender attitudes and norms
  • Reduced poverty/increase household well-being