New numbers from UNESCO, released this Thursday, show that schools are now fully open in 117 countries, with 539 million students back in class, ranging from pre-primary to secondary levels. Around 117 million students, representing 7.5 per cent of the total, are still affected by complete school closures in 18 countries.
The UN children's agency is closing down its social media channels
for 18 hours to send one message to the world: #ReopenSchools for in-person learning as soon as possible.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO
) is joining UNICEF
together with the World Bank, the European External Action Service
(EEAS), the European Commission Humanitarian Aid operation, the LEGO
Foundation and the WEF Global Shapers community of world youth.
For UNICEF, the right to go to school is central to every child’s development, safety and well-being. Yet in too many
countries, classrooms remain closed while social gatherings continue to
take place in restaurants, salons and gyms.
According to the statement released on Thursday, the protest is intended to
call for attention to the 18 months of lost learning, deferred potential and
uncertain future and to urge governments to reopen schools as soon as possible. The agency believes “this generation of children and youth, cannot afford any more disruptions to their education.”
Approximately 131 million students in 11 countries have missed more than three–quarters
of their in-person learning, according to an estimate by UNICEF while around 27
per cent of countries worldwide continue to have schools fully or partially
closed. New numbers from UNESCO
released this Thursday, show that schools are now fully open in 117
countries, with 539 million students back in class, ranging from pre-primary to secondary levels. Around 117 million students, representing 7.5 per cent of the total,
are still affected by complete school closures in 18 countries.
In all countries that had prolonged full school closures, education was provided through a combination of online classes, printed modules,
as well as tuition through TV and radio networks. Schools in most countries have adopted some forms of
sanitation protocol such as wearing masks, using hand sanitisers,
improving ventilation and social distancing, which were also key to
re-opening schools last year.
"As classes resume in many countries around the world, millions of students are
heading into a third academic year without stepping foot in a classroom,” said
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The losses that students are
incurring from not being in school may never be recovered,” she says.
In Uganda, an estimated 15 million learners are at home due to the prolonged
school closures. Last week
President Museveni directed the Prime Minister to convene a meeting with the
relevant ministries and come up with better proposals for the safe reopening of
schools. Currently, vaccination of teachers, support staff and the different vulnerable
groups who include the elderly is going on across the country.
UNICEF, school closures have created a shadow crisis for children. It argues
that many children are missing out on school-based meals and routine
vaccinations, experiencing social isolation and increased anxiety and being
exposed to abuse and violence among others. Reports indicate that many school-going
children have been raped, defiled, married off and some engaged in child
labour across Uganda.
According to UNICEF, schools are not the main drivers of transmission and that
it is possible to keep them open for in-person learning.