Covid-19, Two-thirds of an academic year lost due to closures, according to UNESCO

One year after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 800 million pupils and students, or more than half of the population in the world, are still facing significant disruptions in their studies which range from total closure of establishments in more than 31 countries on reduced hours or part-time in 48 others, according to the latest data appearing on UNESCO’s interactive tracking map released on Sunday.

Around the world, educational institutions have been closed completely for three and a half months, or 14 weeks on average, since the start of the pandemic. This figure rises to five and a half months (22 weeks), or the equivalent of two-thirds of a school year, if we take into account localized closures, says the UN organization.

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The length of shutdowns vary greatly by region of the world, ranging from five months (20 weeks) of full national shutdowns on average in Latin American and Caribbean countries, to two and a half months (10 weeks) in Europe, and only one month in Oceania, notes UNESCO in a press release.

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Similar regional variations are observed when controlling for localized closures: the duration of full and localized closures exceeded seven months (29 weeks) on average in Latin America and the Caribbean, while the global average is five months and half (22 weeks).

Governments have worked to minimize closures nationwide – from 190 countries at the height of the first wave in April 2020 to 30 countries today – in favor of partial and / or local closures, he explains. -on, noting that schools are now fully open in 101 countries.

“Prolonged and repeated school closures are taking a growing psychosocial toll on students, increasing learning losses and the risk of dropping out, and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable,” said the Director-General of the ‘UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

According to the UN official, “complete school closures must therefore be a last resort and their safe reopening a priority”.

Data released by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report synthesis policy document shows that even before the pandemic, just one in five countries demonstrated a strong commitment to gender equality. education through its funding mechanisms.

And, currently, “”there is little evidence of a strong concern for fairness in responses to Covid-19,” we note.

“We need a sufficiently funded recovery plan to reopen schools safely, targeting the most disadvantaged and putting education back on track for the Covid-19 generation,” said Ms. Azoulay, who at on the occasion of the International Day of Education, called on countries and partners to prioritize education as a “global common good” as part of recovery.

UNESCO’s celebration of the International Day of Education calls for increased and better funding for education, and emphasizes the low priority given to education in recovery efforts, the statement said.

UNESCO data shows that the sector receives only about 0.78% of aid programs globally. In addition, aid to education appears to be falling by 12% due to the pandemic, the report notes.

It also risks increasing the education financing gap by a third, which could reach $ 200 billion per year in low- and middle-income countries, or nearly 40% of the total cost.

According to the UN organization, the initial investment in catch-up programs would make it possible to achieve savings downstream, by reducing by three quarters the cost necessary to remedy the damage caused by Covid-19.

To allow a safe return to class, Unesco has asked that the 100 million teachers and educators in the world be given priority in vaccination campaigns, it is recalled.

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