The funds will help developing countries to mitigate both the immediate and long-term disruptions to education being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will also help to sustain learning for up to 355 million children, with a focus on ensuring that girls and poor children who will be hit the hardest by school closures to continue their education.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Global Partnership for Education supports developing countries to ensure that every child receives quality basic education, prioritising the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility or conflict.

GPE mobilises financing for education and supports developing countries to build effective education systems founded on evidence-based planning and policies

However, the GPE in a statement on Monday said that on the whole, there are 67 developing countries eligible for the COVID-19 funding.

In Africa, the 39 eligible countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Others are The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Of the 67 countries eligible for the GPE funds, 63 have already closed schools nationwide in response to the pandemic.

Julia Gillard, GPE Board Chair, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is creating an education emergency that could have devastating impacts on children in developing countries.

“Unless we act now to support education systems, millions of vulnerable children, especially the poorest girls, may not be able to resume learning when this crisis is over.”

Serigne Mbaye Thiam, GPE Vice Board Chair, said: “GPE has acted swiftly in the face of an unprecedented challenge.

“These funds will ensure that developing countries, like Senegal, are able to act quickly to mitigate the detrimental impact COVID-19 will have on the most vulnerable children and maintain the resilience of education systems.’’

Also, Alice Albright, GPE’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are stepping up to mitigate the impacts that school closures in developing countries will have on the most vulnerable children.

“GPE is committed to ensuring that learning can continue, and that no child’s education is left behind.’’

The GPE said the funding will be available immediately to support coordinated and country-driven responses in up to 67 countries and meet both urgent and longer-term needs.

The Ministries of Education and local education partners can use the funds to ensure learning can continue, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable, for example by producing educational radio and television programmes and distributing equipment such as radios and textbooks to the poorest households.

The funds can also be used to support teachers, ensure children with special needs and disabilities are included and collect data to know that learning is happening, the statement said.

It added that they can be used to mitigate poverty and gender barriers to learning, which will be exacerbated by economic shock; and ensure that teachers and schools are equipped to re-open when it is safe to do so.