United Nations says 1 billion students affected by closures, largest amount in history

Elias Hubbard
August 5, 2020

"Once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority", Guterres said.

"As the world faces unsustainable levels of inequality, we need education, the great equalizer, more than ever", he said in a video message, adding that "we must take bold steps now, to create inclusive, resilient, quality education systems fit for the future".

Guterres said that the world is at a defining moment for children and young people.

Germany was the first European country to reopen schools this week as the summer holidays are coming to an end in several states.

More than 250 million children were already out of school before the pandemic, and only a quarter of people in developing countries left school "with basic skills".

UNESCO's education chief Stefania Giannini announced a high-level virtual meeting in October to secure commitments from world leaders on education.

While commending efforts to keep up education via distant learning, the United Nations chief said that many students stayed out of reach, for example, learners with disabilities, those in minority of disadvantaged communities, displaced and refugee students.

'There may be economic trade-offs, but the longer schools remain closed the more devastating the impact, especially on the poorest and most vulnerable children, ' Giannini warned.

Despite efforts to continue learning during the crisis, including through delivering lessons by radio, television and online, many are still not being reached.

And these initiatives should urgently seek to bridge the digital divide that has become even more evident during the COVID-19 crisis, he said.

He said that increasing financing for education must be given priority as governments allocate funds in the post-Covid era.

Despite the best efforts of teachers to keep education going through distance learning and parents trying to home school their children, many can not be reached.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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