As of 19 March, 110 countries have closed their schools due to coronavirus. That adds more than 890 million children affected by the pandemic to the 258 million young people who cannot attend school due to conflicts, natural disasters, poverty and discrimination. The result is more than ONE BILLION children who cannot attend courses at their school. Due to these circumstances, the right to education could see long-term failings in terms of:
Interrupted learning: less opportunities for growth and development. Under-privileged students are further deprived.
Nutrition: students would not receive free or discounted meals.
Dropout rates: after a prolonged period, it is always more difficult for youth to return and stay in schools
UNESCO is examining the number of affected children and is trying to help during this period. A UNESCO-Covid-19 Emergency Task Force has been created to share digital and traditional methods of learning and to ensure extra support for more vulnerable countries. This includes a global video conference of 73 countries and many education ministers.
The aim is to find hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech solutions to assure the continuity of learning, and share the most effective approaches and support for students, teachers and families on a national and international level.
The Theirworld campaign, Education Cannot Wait, was set up in 2016 to ensure quality education in emergencies. It targets children who face child labour, early marriage, recruitment by armed groups, exploitation and discrimination. Furthermore, the program understands that a year without school greatly decreases the chances of students returning — for girls this is 2.5 times less likely.
Theirworld continues to focus on the most vulnerable groups during pandemics. They think governments should ensure the continuity of education because the consequences of a lost year are far too high. There are critically endangered nations and groups all over the world (girls in India, or countries where children are first-generation learners). They also point to the lack of internet, computers or tablets not only in developing countries, but also in the United States.