The world’s poorest children are locked out of learning, denied internet access and have lost free school meals, a lifeline for 300 million boys and girls
Urgent action must be taken to address the global education emergency triggered by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, said 275 former world leaders, economists and educationalists in a letter published August 18, 2020.
The Group of 20 (G20) countries, national governments and global financial institutions were urged to take action to save the global education sector in a letter published by Save our Future, a global campaign launched by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The letter was signed by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, economist Amartya Sen, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (2006-12) and former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, among others.
Measures must be taken for millions of children who have become a part of the ‘COVID generation’ and have no hope of an education, said the former leaders in the letter.
The world’s poorest children were locked out of learning, denied internet access and lost free school meals — once a lifeline for 300 million boys and girls — pushing them towards hunger, said the letter.
Efforts were needed to get all these children in school. This included the 260 million already out of schools, the 75 million affected by protracted conflicts and forced displacement and 35 million of those who are internally displaced or live as refugees.
The letter urged G20 countries to increase funding, rebuild education in their countries and called for three emergency initiatives:
Apart from the three measures, the former leaders’ group called for the participation of private sector corporations and foundations in making global education a greater priority.
Hundred countries have not announced a date for schools to reopen yet, while 65 have plans for a partial or full reopening and 32 planning to end the academic year online, according to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Education Coalition for COVID-19 response. This was set up by UNESCO to support governments in strengthening distance-learning and facilitating the reopening of schools.
Guterres earlier called on governments and donors to prioritise education for all children, including the most marginalised.
Describing education as the key to personal development and the future of societies, he issued recommendations to get children back in the classroom in a policy brief accompanying the launch of the Save our Future campaign August 4.
Overall education spending in low- and middle-income countries can be $100-150 billion lower than previously planned, according to World Bank estimates.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.