Covid-19 pandemic created largest disruption of education in history, affecting 1.6 billion students: UN SG Guterres
COVID-19 pandemic| education in history

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the greatest disturbance of education in history, impacting almost 1.6 billion students across all countries and continents, and an estimated 23.8 million children and young people may or may not have exposure to school next year owing to the economic effect of the pandemic alone, said the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief on education.

He stated that by mid-July, schools had closed in more than 160 countries, impacting more than 1 billion pupils, and at least 40 million children across the world had missed their schooling in their vital pre-school year.

The UN chief highlighted that the world was now experiencing a pre-pandemic literacy crisis, with more than 250 million school-aged children out of school and about a quarter of secondary school children in developed countries leaving school with basic skills.

Launching a policy brief, he said it focused on a new campaign with education leaders entitlingit ‘Save our Future,’ and the steps that governments and partners are already making will have a profound effect on hundreds of millions of young people and on countries’ growth opportunities for decades to come.

The initiative would reinforce the voices of children and young people and encourage governments around the world to acknowledge progress in education as crucial to the recovery of COVID-19.

The policy brief advocates for change in four main areas: re-opening classrooms, prioritizing education in financing decision-making, concentrating on the hardest to access and future of education.

Upon re-opening classrooms, the brief notes that until the local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, transferring children to schools and academic facilities as quickly as possible will be a key priority.

The UN has provided recommendations to support countries in this dynamic endeavor, and Guterres said that it would be important to balance safety threats against the threats to education and security of children and to take into account the effects on the involvement of women in the workplace.

The brief’s attention on the most difficult to reach points out that education programs will aim to serve those at the highest risk of being left behind — people in emergency and distress situations; minority groups of all kinds; displaced individuals and persons with disabilities.

The brief further points out that the potential of education is here and that there is a global need to reinvent education.

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