03 Learning Passport
For disrupting virtual education models to help underprivileged kids shut out of classrooms
The Great Lockdown kept roughly 1.7 billion children around the world home from school, according to UNICEF. While some countries quickly shifted to remote classes—with the most affluent families able to tap virtual tutoring and other digital-enrichment offerings—many economically and technologically challenged regions had limited options.
Experts warned that the lack of remote-learning capability would exacerbate existing opportunity and achievement gaps.
That’s when Mac Glovinsky, UNICEF’s global program manager, stepped up with an idea to take a pilot project into new territory. Originally conceived in 2018 as a digital educational platform to help displaced and refugee children, Learning Passport is a partnership among UNICEF, Microsoft, the University of Cambridge and Dubai Cares. Glovinsky believed the platform could be adapted to meet new, pandemic-fueled demands of students in underprivileged areas.
With the support of senior leadership across the partners, Glovinsky and his team set out to deploy digitized in-language curriculums curated to meet the specific needs of local students and educators. Children—from Ukraine to Zimbabwe, Jordan to Somalia—access a country-specific platform that includes digitized textbooks and supplemental content, designed by UNICEF’s in-country team in partnership with local governments. The platform both tracks which curriculum subjects each student learns and guides them through additional materials, with little to no parental involvement needed.