The Learning Passport in Honduras
An innovative learning experience
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made education inequities visible across the world, with grave consequences for an entire generation, especially for the most vulnerable. The Latin America and the Caribbean region faced the world’s longest school closures, full and partial, lasting an average of 1.5 academic years, and depriving millions of learners from an average of 225 days of learning (World Bank & UNICEF, 2022)1.
The global learning crisis has provided an opportunity to reimagine learning and to leverage innovative solutions to address challenges caused by the pandemic as well as inequities that pre-existed it.
AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION TO REIMAGINE EDUCATION
Under this context, some countries in the region have been affected to a greater extent. In Honduras, in 2020, nearly 40 per cent of students dropped out of school due to social insecurity and the increase in poverty due to the pandemic and the effects of hurricanes Eta and Iota (UNAH, 2021)2. Nearly one million children from pre-primary to secondary levels were excluded from formal education. But the pandemic has also provided an impetus to develop alternative solutions to reduce the direct impact on the quality of and access to education.
The 'Learning Passport', a digital learning solution powered by UNICEF and Microsoft, was designed as an innovative tool to reimagine teaching and learning. Originally developed to improve learning opportunities for children on the move, the programme was later adapted in response to the pandemic to be implemented as a digital learning solution with public-private partners, especially Ministries of Education of the countries in the region.
This platform hosts a digitized version of the school curricula, incorporates learning new skills, and supports the recovery of lost learning, helping children and adolescents learn from their desktop or mobile devices online and offline. It is an innovative alternative for remote and in-person education. It can provide students and teachers access to the curriculum outside school hours, offering other ways to extend what is learned in class. In addition, it provides new and engaging ways to interact digitally with the curriculum to make learning fun. It is also a model for teachers, caregivers, and parents to receive the training and tools necessary to support student learning.
This initiative is designed for different spheres of education: in early childhood education, primary, and secondary level education; aimed at skills development and technical and vocational education; adapted to the needs of children and youth who do not attend a school or require support to ensure that the education they receive is of quality, among others. Furthermore, the Learning Passport is a flexible and adaptable resource, which helps countries easily and quickly adopt it as their national learning management system or use it to complement existing digital learning platforms.
THE HONDURAS EXPERIENCE
Honduras adopted the Learning Passport platform in 2021, led by the Ministry of Education (SEDUC) and UNICEF, with educational resources for preschool, primary and secondary education, as well as skills development content. Since its launch, more than 15,000 students and teachers have registered and were able to access formal and non-formal education courses.
The platform was supplemented by plans to improve access to learning opportunities for all. For example, during the pandemic, the Ministry of Education and the National Telecommunications Council established a programme to enable students to access websites and obtain free Internet access (2GB of data per month) to the Learning Passport and other online educational sites. The objective was to improve each municipality and department's academic performance index. We also worked on the Giga school connectivity programme, which seeks to connect learning centers to enhance development and learning opportunities for children and adolescents. The programme has been implemented in urban and rural schools and is currently being scaled up.
STRENGTHENING THE CAPACITIES OF TEACHERS AND EDUCATION PERSONNEL
Together with UNICEF's Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACRO) and UNICEF Innocenti, in September 2022, a two-day face-to-face workshop for teachers and directors was held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. These spaces were created to socialize the opportunities provided by Learning Passport and, at the same time, to train participants in the use and customization of the platform. The sessions participated by the teams of partner schools and UNICEF was vital in learning about the added value of this educational platform, exploring it and sharing the experience of the programme in other countries.
During the mission, schools that already partner in the programme as well as other schools that have not yet joined the programme were visited, to learn about the experiences of teachers and students with digital remote learning during the pandemic and as schools started reopening. Many schools where digital learning solutions or connectivity programmes will be incorporated are located in areas with high levels of violence, and deteriorating safety due to gang activities.
Schools’ capacity as a protective space to children’s rights to comprehensive education is often weakened at times of crisis. Therefore, incorporating digital solutions can be a mechanism that helps education transcend various complex contexts, such as health emergencies. And once learners return to in-person learning, tech-based tools can continue to improve the learning experience of children and adolescents.
FUTURE STEPS FOR LEARNING PASSPORT
UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Education in Honduras and partners such as Save the Children to certify courses and include the platform as an institutional learning tool. We will also continue to progress efforts for the national implementation of the programme. This phase of the programme will focus on recovering the learning losses caused by the pandemic, reaching children and adolescents at the primary and secondary level.
In addition to Honduras, at regional level, the Learning Passport is being rolled out in Costa Rica, Mexico and Jamaica, and It will continue being expanded to improve the learning experience of more children and adolescents in the region.