UNICEF warned this Tuesday that the first day of school is indefinitely delayed for 140 million children around the world due to Covid-19. Therefore, it calls on governments to reopen schools to resume face-to-face education and to provide students with a comprehensive remedial response.
According to a report by the UN agency for children, to date, almost eight million students have been waiting for more than a year to be able to participate in the first day of school , because they live in places where schools have remained closed during the pandemic.
The executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, emphasizes that the first day of school is “a historic moment” in the life of a child, but that “millions of children in the first year have been waiting for more than a year to see the inside of a class”. “It is possible that several million more will not be able to see it in the entire first quarter. In the case of the most vulnerable, the chances that they will not get to set foot in a class in their entire lives are very high,” he laments.
Unicef recalls that during the first year the foundations of future learning are laid through the introduction to reading, writing and mathematics. Likewise, in this period face-to-face education enables children to become more independent, adapt to new routines, and establish meaningful relationships with teachers and students.
“Face-to-face education also enables teachers to detect and address learning delays, mental health problems and abuse cases that could have negative effects on the well-being of children,” says Unicef.
In 2020, schools around the world were completely closed for an average of 79 school days . However, after the pandemic began, the 168 million student centers remained closed for virtually the entire year.
The organization warns that the consequences associated with the closure of schools (lack of learning, anxiety, difficulties in receiving vaccines and an increased risk of dropping out of school, child labor and child marriage) will affect many children, especially to the youngest students , who are in the most decisive stages of development.
If action is not taken to stop it, the World Bank estimates that this generation of students will suffer a loss of some 10 billion dollars (about 8,526 million euros) in income as adults.
Against this background, Unicef proposes that specific programs be promoted so that all minors return to the classroom, that remedial classes be given to the most vulnerable and that teachers be helped with technology to bring more and better education to minors.