UNICEF warned this week of serious setbacks in education that are piling up in many countries two years into the pandemic.With hours and hours of school lost and millions of children never fully returned to the classroom.
In a new study, the UN Children’s Agency analyzed the educational impact of COVID-19 in 32 poor and middle-income countries and concluded that if no action is taken, education in many places could go from “great” to creating a “big gap”. Between children who learn well and those who do not.
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“When children are unable to interact with their teachers and peers directly, their learning is affected. When they are unable to interact with their teachers and peers in any way, the loss can become permanent,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine warned in a statement. Russell.
The report indicates that One million children have missed more than half their in-person instruction hours in the past two years And with 23 countries where schools have not yet fully opened, the risk of dropping out of school is rising exponentially. According to data collected in Liberia, 43% of students never returned to classes when classes reopened in December 2020 after months of closure.
In Uganda, one in ten children did not return to school when schools ended their two-year closure in January of this year. Meanwhile, in South Africa, the number of out-of-school children tripled between March 2020 and July 2021, and a survey in Kenya found that 16% of female students and 8% of males aged 10-19 have dropped out of classes. during the pandemic.
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UNICEF stressed that out-of-school children tend to become the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society. The study also draws attention to the low level of learning for many students who have continued to study during the pandemic.
According to its authors, the rate of progress in the countries analyzed is so slow that it will take seven years for most students to acquire the basic levels of reading to be learned within two years.
Across the 32 countries studied, a quarter of eighth graders — about 14 years old — did not have the reading levels expected of a second grader. Meanwhile, more than half did not reach the expected level in mathematics for the second year, when the students were about 7 years old.
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“As the pandemic enters its third year, we cannot afford to go back to normal,” Russell said. “They missed it and made sure teachers had the preparedness and resources they needed.”
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