1.6 Billion Students Affected by COVID-19: UN Chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. File Photo (Agencies)

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a disruption in the education system globally. Around 1.6 billion students are affected and an additional 23.8 million children and youth are projected to drop out or not have access to education following the current disruption due to the pandemic’s economic impact.

He warned of a “generational catastrophe” because of classroom closures amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said, “Getting students safely back to the classroom must be a top priority.” Around 40 million children have missed the pre-primary education, the policy estimated.

Education is the key to personal development and the future of societies. It unlocks opportunities and narrows inequalities. It is the bedrock of informed, tolerant societies, and a primary driver of sustainable development. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever,” said Secretary-General through a video message, while launching a policy brief ‘Education and COVID-19’.

Guterres said, “Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.” He expressed concern over students left behind to access lessons through radio, television and online.

Students with special abilities, from a minority community and in remote places are severely affected, the policy stated.

UN Secretary General’s policy brief on education said, “Once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority.”

The campaign ‘Save our future’ launched by the UN will focus on urging governments to invest in education post-Covid scenario. It focuses on four key areas: reopening schools, prioritising education in financing decisions, targeting the hardest to reach and future of education

The brief highlighted that before the pandemic, the low and middle-income countries have lost USD 1.5 trillion dollars a year in education. Amid the pandemic, the finance has hit low and the governments should prioritise in the financing, the policy stated.

The policy emphasises on the inequality faced by female students and students in the vulnerable community.

Guterres while expressing the inequality in accessing the educated, said, “We need education – the great equaliser – more than ever. We must take bold steps now, to create inclusive, resilient, quality education systems fit for the future.

The brief says that the current disruption has given ample opportunities to reshape the future of education globally. This is a “generational opportunity” to deliver quality education for all children, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stated the policy.


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Written by Nilutpal Timsina

Nilutpal Timsina is working as a Journalist for Headline8. He is a journalism graduate from Bangalore University. His areas of interest include civic issue, politics, and public policy spheres and other functionality of the government. Besides writing news, Nilutpal also coordinates with the video production team with story researches. He can be reached at: Follow him on Twitter @nilutpaltimsina


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