Unesco: two thirds of school year lost to Covid

Paris, Jan 24 (efe-epa).- Schools around the world have been closed for an average of two-thirds of the academic year because of Covid-19, Unesco said Sunday.

To mark International Education Day, the UN agency pointed out that more than 800 million students continue to face major disruptions, while 500 million have been left without access to remote learning.

The complete nationwide closure for an average of 3.5 months rises to 5.5 months if school closures in localized areas are taken into account.

The duration of the closures varies greatly by region, with five months of complete closures in Latin American and Caribbean countries, two and a half months in Europe, and only one month in Oceania.

But when looking at partial and localized closures, they averaged more than seven months in Latin America and the Caribbean, compared to a global average of 5.5 months.

The total closure of schools in 31 countries and the reduction of school hours in 48 others have affected 800 million students, more than half of the student population, Unesco said.

At the national level, only schools in Greenland, Iceland, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Belarus, Estonia, Burundi, Turkmenistan, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea are currently fully open.

“Prolonged and repeated closures of education institutions are taking a rising psycho-social toll on students, increasing learning losses and the risk of dropping out, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable,” Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay said.

Azoulay insisted that total closures should be a last resort and the safe reopening of schools “a priority”.

In addition, new data from the Global Education Monitoring Report points out that few countries are making an effort to respond to the problems of equity in education9.

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