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Over 850 million children across the globe not at school amid Covid-19 pandemic: UNESCO

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 19, 2020 Published on March 19, 2020

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Tuesday said over 850 million children across the world had to stay away from school in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As of late Tuesday, over 850 million children and youth – roughly half of the world’s student population – had to stay away from schools and universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide closures are in force in 102 countries and local shut-downs in 11 others. This represents more than a doubling in the number of learners prevented from attending educational institutions, with further increases expected,” UNESCO said.

Countries across the globe had to take serious measures to curb the outbreak of COVID-19. Precautionary measures included shutting down of schools, gyms, malls, theatres and other public places.

UNESCO further said that countries were trying to “fill the void with distance learning solutions but the uncertain duration of the closures adds further complication to their efforts. These range from hi-tech alternatives like real-time video classes conducted remotely, to lower-tech options such as educational programming on radio and television.”

It has further launched a Global COVID-19 Education Coalition, partnering up with tech majors such as Microsoft and the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), to help countries deploy remote learning systems to minimise disruption in the education sector.

“The current situation imposes immense challenges for countries to be able to provide uninterrupted learning for all children and youth in an equitable manner. We are stepping up our global response by creating a coalition to ensure a fast and coordinated response. Beyond meeting immediate needs, this effort is an opportunity to rethink education, scale up distance learning and make education systems more resilient, open and innovative,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

Earlier this month, in light of the rising number of cases in the country, the Indian government announced that it will be shutting down schools and colleges till the end of March across multiple states, including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi.

Over 2,00,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the globe so far, with more than 8,600 deaths being recorded, according to the World Health Organization.

Published on March 19, 2020
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