Pandemic’s dire global impact on education!

Aug 11, 2021, 1:01 PM

Governments should act swiftly to redress the harm caused to children’s education in the wake of the unprecedented disruption from the waves of Covid-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said in a report released recently.

Human Rights Watch accompanied its report with an interactive feature exploring common barriers to education exacerbated during the pandemic.

The 125-page report, ‘Years Don’t Wait for Them’: Increased Inequalities in Children’s Right to Education Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic,” documents how Covid-19 related school closures affected children unequally, as not all children had the opportunities, tools, or access needed to keep on learning during the pandemic.

The heavy reliance on online learning exacerbated the existing unequal distribution of support for education, Human Rights Watch found. Many governments did not have the policies, resources, or infrastructure to roll out online learning in a way that ensured that all children could participate on an equal basis.

Elin Martinez, senior education researcher at Human Rights Watch, with millions of children deprived of education during the pandemic, now is the time to strengthen protection of the right to education by rebuilding better and more equitable and robust education systems.

As of May 2021, schools in 26 countries were closed country-wide, and schools were only partially open – either just in some locations or only for some grade levels – in 55 countries. An estimated 90 percent of the world’s school-aged children have had their education disrupted by the pandemic, according to UNESCO.

For millions of students, school closures will not be a temporary interference with their education, but the abrupt end of it, Human Rights Watch said. Children have begun working, married, become parents, grown disillusioned with education, concluded they cannot catch up, or aged-out of free or compulsory education as guaranteed under their country’s laws.

Even for the students who have returned, or who will return, to their classrooms, the evidence suggests that for years to come they will continue to feel the consequences of lost learning during the pandemic.

The damage to many children’s education is built on pre-existing issues: one in five children were out of school even before Covid-19 began to spread, according to UN data. Covid-induced school closures tended to particularly harm students from groups facing discrimination and exclusion from education even before the pandemic.

A Guest Editorial

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