The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has said about 60.2 million teachers and 1.37 billion students, representing more than three out of four children and youth worldwide are no longer in the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic.
UNESCO said school closures globally have impacted nearly 80 per cent of the world’s student population.
It said an ad hoc group consisting of education ministers from Nigeria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and Senegal has been set up to look into the matter and come up with means to cushion the effect of the pandemic on education.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that the likelihood of vulnerable children returning to school after the crisis is slim.
UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected children’s lives in unprecedented ways. Hundreds of millions of children will have to spend weeks and months away from their classrooms.
“We know from experience that the longer vulnerable children stay away from school, the less likely they are to return. It is critical to give them alternative ways to learn and rebuild a routine. If we act now, we can take the necessary steps to safeguard their future while protecting their present.”
She announced that the Global Partnership for Education has made an $8.8 million contribution to UNICEF to help children and young people in 87 developing countries access learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She disclosed that UNICEF would also provide $4 million of resources to reach an additional 58 countries, while explaining that these funds would support children’s many needs including preparing alternative learning programmes, providing vital information on handwashing, counselling to support their mental health, programming to prevent stigma and discrimination, amongst others.
“Governments in 87 eligible countries will start receiving education funds from 30 March to support education systems’ response to COVID-19. The funds will help scale up response planning, communication around safe school operations and sharing knowledge and building capacity,” she concluded.