Case Study

Distance Education in COVID-19: Strategies, Challenges and Successes

Abigail Bautista
Jennifer Tao
Naomi Bonilla
Seek Ling Tan
Sophie Zinn
Sophia Mohammed
Anwesha Sarma
Publication Year:
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Countries around the world are experiencing the highest recorded level of school disruption in history because of COVID - 19. UNESCO estimates that 290.5 million students are out of school at this time due to school shutdowns and government- mandated lockdowns. Through our project, we explore the emergency education response of 11 case countries with the largest school - age populations and analyze how these countries have implemented distance learning strategies that promote quality, access and wellbeing. We have conducted an exploratory analysis of South Africa, Albania, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia and China. We examined the varying types of distance learning strategies that have been implemented and the autonomy given to state and local schools for learning plans, and identified common challenges and emerging best practices.


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries are experiencing the highest recorded level of school disruption in history. UNESCO (2020) estimates that 290.5 million students are out of school at this time because of school shutdowns and quarantine. As a result, most have turned to distance learning as a solution for continuing education. During acute emergencies, educational interventions should promote access, quality, and wellbeing (Burde et al., 2015, 9). That is why exploring and analyzing how countries’ distance learning strategies affect those factors is so vital. The following exploratory analysis investigates how a set of countries, with some of the greatest number of students in their regions, are managing their responses to education in emergencies in the context of COVID-19.


This report summarises the alternative practices to deliver education and to identify the best practices in distance learning in the following developing countries across the world: South Africa, Cambodia, Turkey, Albania, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Brazil, Indonesia, China, and Egypt. These countries were selected for this report as they are ranked amongst the most populous countries in the world, specifically with a focus on the highest student populations in different regions within the Global South (Desa, U. N., 2019). Some of the countries were specifically chosen due to unique demographic trends among their student population (ie. Cambodia) and special circumstances regarding a large portion of the population (ie. Albania). The purpose of this report is to provide students, educators, researchers, and policymakers insight on the best practices and challenges of each of the following countries’ educational responses to COVID-19 that are relevant to improving future education policy decisions during emergency situations.


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