800 Million Children Across the World Still Not Fully Back in School

Schools remain closed or are only offering a mix of remote and in-person learning in at least 90 countries, according to UNICEF. This means that 800 million children across the world are still not fully back in classes, highlighting the need to reflect upon the educational costs of lockdowns. The Guardian has the story.

Across the world 800 million children are still not fully back in school, UNICEF is warning, with many at risk of never returning to the classroom the longer closures go on. There are at least 90 countries where schools are either closed or offering a mix of remote and in-person learning.

The UN agency’s chief of education, Robert Jenkins, told the Guardian that the closures are part of “unimaginable” disruption to children’s education.

“I didn’t imagine the scale of the closures when schools shut last year, and I didn’t imagine it going on for so long. In all our scenario planning for disruption, this possibility was never raised,” he says.

“At the peak of the pandemic 1.6 billion children were not in school and here we are, a year later, and 800 million are still suffering partially or fully disrupted education.

“There are a lot of lessons that need to be drawn, and one is the impact that prolonged school closures have on children.”

In Britain, the number of primary school leavers struggling with literacy has risen by 30,000 over the past year of lockdowns. The scale of the decline in basic reading skills is such that the Prime Minister is devising an “emergency” plan to boost educational support. But the picture in some other parts of the world is even bleaker, with children being forced into work or being married off.

A new Covid Global Education Recovery Tracker from UNICEF, the World Bank and Johns Hopkins University is monitoring closures across the world, analysing where children are learning at home or at school.

Humanitarian organisations say the closures have contributed to a range of increasing abuses and degradation of children’s rights across the world, from increasing use of child labour to a rise in child marriages, often in communities were children already struggled to access education. …

A Save the Children report out this week warns that in Lebanon children are being put into work by parents desperate for money. The charity fears many of the children will never return to school. Jennifer Moorehead, the charity’s Lebanon director, said: “We are already witnessing the tragic impact of this situation, with children working in supermarkets or in farms, and girls forced to get married.”

In Uganda, schools have been closed since March 2020, putting 15 million pupils out of education. Only certain classes with exams coming up have been allowed to return. The rest will return in a staggered way in the coming months, though thousands of girls will not, having become pregnant or been married off in the intervening period.

Worth reading in full.

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