News Release - First day of school has been postponed indefinitely for around 140 million students due to COVID-19, UNICEF reveals in new analysis released at the end of August.
Of that number, about eight million toddlers are waiting to be able to attend their very first day of school.
“As classes resume in many countries, millions of first graders have been waiting for more than a year to discover the inside of a classroom. For the most vulnerable, the risk of never setting foot in a classroom in their lifetime has taken on disproportionate proportions, ”deplores Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF.
The first year, which is an introduction to reading, writing and arithmetic, forms the basis of all future learning. It is also the period during which face-to-face learning allows children to gain autonomy, to adopt new habits and to establish enriching relationships with teachers and other students.
Face-to-face teaching also enables teachers to identify and report learning delays, mental health problems and cases of abuse that can have a negative effect on the well-being of the child.
In 2020, schools around the world were completely closed for 79 days of lessons on average.
Although countries around the world are taking steps to introduce distance learning, at least 29 % primary school students are not benefiting from it.
In addition to the lack of distance learning resources, younger children may not be able to participate due to lack of support regarding the use of technology, poor educational environment, pressure on them. to do household chores or because they are forced to work.
UNICEF urges governments to reopen schools to face-to-face education as soon as possible, and provide students with a comprehensive solution to get them back to school. Together with the World Bank and UNESCO, UNICEF calls on governments to focus on three back-to-school priorities:
1- Programs targeting the return of all students to school so that they can have access to tailor-made services that meet their learning, health, psychological and other needs;
2- Effective remedial lessons, to help students make up for lost learning;
3- Support for teachers to address lost learning and incorporate digital technology into their lessons.
We must reopen schools to face-to-face education as soon as possible and we must immediately address the learning gaps that this pandemic has created. If we don't, some children may never catch up. », Maintains says Henrietta Fore.
UNICEF works in some of the world's most inhospitable places to reach the most disadvantaged children. In more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, every day, to build a better world for all. www.unicef.org/fr