A new UNESCO issue note, produced by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), aims to enhance higher education institutions’ engagement with local communities in the context of the current pandemic, now and in its aftermath. It addresses education policy-makers and planners as well as professionals in the higher education sector, suggesting concrete measures and encouraging them to take action.
Most of the higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world have been forced to close their premises and temporarily discontinue on-campus learning due to COVID-19. This has had multiple effects, both on the student population but also on the modus operandi of HEIs. It has also affected ‘lifelong learning’ activities of HEIs, prompting more flexible learning formats, such as short-cycle courses, open lectures and public talks, offered to local communities and learners of all ages.
Yet, particularly in the time of such a severe crisis, with consequences for every aspect of life, HEIs’ engagement and support for local communities is vital. With their vast research-based expertise, their experience in knowledge production and dissemination, and their know-how concerning effective and innovative teaching and learning practices, HEIs have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the right to quality education and learning opportunities for all is not compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HEIs have already proven to be instrumental in helping communities respond to the pandemic. Actions taken include providing free online learning provision for a wider public, conducting research on COVID-19 and its impact, communicating and raising awareness by sharing accurate and scientific knowledge about the virus, as well as students volunteering to support vulnerable groups.
The issue note, Higher Education Institutions’ Engagement with the Community, not only shares various lessons from past practices and the current crisis but also provides practical tips for designing policy interventions.
UNESCO Education Sector’s issue notes cover key topics related to the COVID-19 education response. This is one of the several issue notes produced by UIL.
Download the issue note, Higher Education Institutions’ Engagement with the Community