by Julia M Cameron
Covid19 Featured Global

A global education emergency: Less than half the world’s student population cannot return to school

The world is still fighting the lethal war against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the virus is forcing us still to put our lives on hold. Moreover, while many alternatives are taking place instead of the normal educational procedures, the UN announced that “ fewer than half the world’s students cannot return to school”. Therefore, the world now finds itself face to face with yet another unprecedented emergency.

A sever educational crisis

The Director-General of UNESCO emphasized the severity and urgency of the problem. She also added that “Several generations are facing the threat of school closures, which concern hundreds of millions of students and have lasted many months. This is an emergency for global education”.

If these were normal times, 900 million pre-primary to secondary students should have been getting ready to start their school year journey. A one that was supposed to begin between August and October. However, because of the pandemic and its countless effects on economies and societies, only about 433 million in 155 countries are set to return to classrooms at this stage. Moreover, even when schools do open, there is no guarantee that students can get back to the classroom. At least, not all of them. Thus, less than half of the world’s student’s education is at risk.

If the UN statistics are correct, only about 128 million out of 561 million students globally, in the middle of their academic year, can attend their respective classes. This leaves the educational fates of two-in-three pupils around the world undetermined. Thus,  almost a billion students will suffer the consequences of school closures and overall uncertainty about their education process.

A Neglected Priority

Even before the global health crisis, education has been a kind of neglected human right. Data proves that more than 75 million children and teens from the ages of  3-18 from all around the world are in urgent and dire need of educational support. Also, Only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary education. Moreover, these numbers have certainly increased since the start of the pandemic. 

Though it is only natural to have educational setbacks during the time of crisis, an already rooted problem is bound to cripple the lives of millions. Taking away the right to education is crushing the silver lining to a better life. Education doesn’t just lead to higher empowerment and civic engagement, but it also decreases the likelihood of violent conflict by almost 37 percent.

Girls at a higher risk 

The crisis is threatening to destroy many efforts poured into an education based on gender equality. Current situations such as school closures, uncertainty over classes, and inability to access remote learning are the main reasons behind this emergency. They not only raise the risk of dropouts, but they also decrease the quality of learning. Moreover, they cause negative social and economic impacts. Hence, studies have proved more than once that in many vulnerable countries and during such situations, girls end up getting the worse end of the stick. Thus, they are left facing a higher risk than the rest of the population.

Therefore, it is vital, now more than ever, that concerned authorities work quickly, efficiently, and creatively to determine how best to ensure a safe return to school. Of course, this goes without doubt that the safety of the students should forever remain their number one priority.


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