British charity Save The Children said the coronavirus pandemic has caused an “unprecedented education emergency” with up to 9.7 million children affected by school closures at risk of never going back to class.
Citing UNESCO data, 1.6 billion young people were shut out of school and university due to measures to contain COVID-19 in April, affecting about 90 percent of the world’s entire student population.
“For the first time in human history, an entire generation of children globally have had their education disrupted,” it said in a new report, Save Our Education.
It added that the economic fall out of the crisis could force an extra 90 to 117 million children into poverty, with a knock-on effect on school admissions. With many young people required to work or girls forced into an early marriage to support their families, this could see between 7 to 9.7 million children dropping out of school permanently.
“Around 10 million children may never return to school – this is an unprecedented education emergency and governments must urgently invest in learning,” Save the Children chief executive Inger Ashing said.
The charity urged governments and donors to invest in more funds behind a new global education plan to help children back into school when it is safe and until then support distance learning.
“We know the poorest, most marginalized children, who were already the furthest behind have suffered the greatest loss, with no access to distance learning – or any kind of education – for half an academic year,” Ashing added.
“If we allow this education crisis to unfold, the impact of children’s futures will be long lasting,” she warned.
Before the crisis, an estimated 258 million children and adolescents were already missing out on school, the charity said.
The school year is upon us, but like most of government these days, our Department of Education is far from prepared. The Philippines will need a comprehensive education plan if an entire generation is not going to be left further behind. As our leaders prepare for distance learning while it is not yet safe for children to go back to school, we can only hope that they have mustered the necessary resources to pull it off as they prepare at the same time for the eventual reopening of schools all over the country.
Filipino children cannot afford to miss out, especially when it comes to education. The challenges presented by COVID-19 should not be an excuse because it is something all nations are also facing.*