Health

Half of world’s students cannot attend school due to coronavirus

Paris, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Half of the world’s students, around 850 million people, cannot attend school or university due to the coronavirus pandemic, a figure that has doubled in four days, Unesco said Wednesday.

A total of 102 countries have totally suspended their educational systems and 11 others have imposed local closures in a bid to slow the advance of the outbreak, according to the latest data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

At the beginning of the month, around 290 million students could not go into educational centres, after total closures in 13 countries and partial shutdowns in nine others, according to the organisation.

Unesco said in a statement: “The number of children, youth and adults not attending schools or universities because of Covid-19 is soaring.”

The organisation added that it was providing “immediate support to countries as they work to minimise the educational disruption and facilitate the continuity of learning, especially for the most vulnerable”.

Unesco said it has also been holding online meetings with education ministers all over the world, including a virtual event on 10 March, so that different countries can share their experiences and evaluate their needs.

It announced the launch of a global coalition together with multilateral organisations and the private sector, including technology companies such as Microsoft and GSMA, to help countries deploy distance learning systems.

Audrey Azoulay, Unesco general-director, said on Twitter: “Let’s support teachers and parents with distance learning solutions and quality education for all.

“More than even we need to count on science, knowledge, information and cooperation.”

She said the crisis could be an opportunity to rethink education, expand distance learning and make education systems more resilient, open and innovative.

Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for education at Unesco, warned that the difficulties will worsen if the situation lengthens over time.

She said schools play an equalising role in society and that students from disadvantaged families will have fewer educational opportunities outside of school and lose access to free or subsidised food.

“An unprecedented number of children, youth & adults are not attending schools or universities because of Covid-19,” she said on Twitter. EFE-EPA

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