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UN Warns of ‘Generational Catastrophe’ Over School Closures

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world is facing a “generational catastrophe” on education

In March, schools were closed all over the world, affecting more than 1 billion students. At least 40 million students worldwide have missed out on education this year.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General warned on Tuesday that the world is facing a “generational catastrophe” because of school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic and “getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority” once local transmission of Covid-19 is under control.

According to CNN, he said:

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever… Despite the delivery of lessons by television, radio and online, and the best efforts of teachers and parents, many students remain out of reach.

Learners with disabilities, those in minority or disadvantaged communities, displaced and refugee students, and those in remote areas are at highest risk of being left behind. And even for those who can access distance learning, success depends on their living conditions.

Parents, especially women, have been forced to assume heavy care burdens in the home.

We already faced a learning crisis before the pandemic,” he said. “Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.

More than 250 million school-age children were out of school before the start of the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school children in developing countries were leaving school with basic skills. The knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality, among others, are also deeply concerning.

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