The infectious pandemic COVID-19 disrupted education system around the globe. The direct and most immediate impact of this global pandemic on the education sector was the loss in learning opportunities. The combination of health and economic shocks to students and their families, and of the constraints to in person teaching-learning activities resulting from the social distancing measures, limited the opportunities of many students to learn. While educators and education leaders took initiatives to create alternative forms of remote (i.e. online) education, those were improvised and poorly supported. As a result, students not only failed to learn what new material was expected of them in the curriculum, but also lost existing knowledge, skills and motivation, as a result of their deficient engagement with school. Available data indicates that there will be considerable learning loss, more so for disadvantaged students around the globe.

The book "Education to Build Back Better", edited and authored by the scholars and researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, examines the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for education systems and argues that major education reforms will be necessary, particularly in the Global South, to address the learning loss caused by the pandemic. To inform those reforms, knowledge about the implementation reforms in the Global South is necessary, and such knowledge is seriously lacking as the existing literature on the implementation of educational change focused principally in reforms in countries in the Global North. This book contributes to address this gap by examining five major education reforms in India, Egypt, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Senegal, and by presenting two novel approaches to climate change education using a bottom up strategy of reform.

The book contains seven international comparative case studies examining education reforms at the macro, meso and micro levels. At the macro level, four studies examine national education reforms in Egypt, Senegal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Three of these are reforms with an explicit effort to transform the curriculum so students could develop a breadth of cognitive and socio-emotional competencies, these efforts are analogous to those involved in "building back better" to recover educational losses caused by the pandemic. Additionally, Senegal's reform focuses on a reform to scale opportunities for early childhood holistic development integrating education, health, and nutrition. At the meso level, a study examines one of the programs that has reached most scale in India in educating for employment while also focusing on the development of breadth of skills. This topic of education for employment has renewed urgency in a recessionary context and one in which automation and artificial intelligence erode existing jobs.

At the micro (i.e. or school) level, two of the studies examine curriculum reforms to help students develop the competencies to adapt to, mitigate and revert climate change. While these two case studies at the micro level focus on the United States, a high-income country, they address the shortcomings of previous approaches to climate change education and suggest how proofs of concept and "niche reforms" can help ambitious curriculum aligned with the goal of adapting, mitigating, and reverting climate change can succeed where others have failed. The book concludes discussing the implementation of such reforms as an evolutionary and learning process, characterized by four dimensions: the goals of the reform, the drivers of the reform, the reform strategy, and the mindsets about educational change which undergird the implementation strategy.

The writer is an independent researcher. E-mail:

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