UN Secretary-General António Guterres today launched the Education in the time of COVID-19 and beyond Policy Brief warning that the pandemic has created the most severe disruption in the world’s education systems in history and is threatening a loss of learning that may stretch beyond one generation of students. School closures are also likely to erase decades of progress, according to the Policy Brief, which builds on UNESCO’s data and features recommendations on ways to avert the looming catastrophe.
UNESCO led the drafting of the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief which contains inputs from 15 sister organizations.
The Brief makes recommendations in four areas to mitigate the effects of the pandemic:
- Suppress transmission of the virus and plan thoroughly for school reopening: this covers health and safety measures, attention to the needs of marginalized children and joint planning and consultation with teachers, parents and communities The UN has issued guidance to help governments in this complex endeavour.
- Protect education financing and coordinate for impact: despite public spending constraints, national authorities must protect education budgets and include education in COVID stimulus packages. The international community must protect official development assistance for education. Relieving, postponing and restructuring debt for low and lower-middle income countries is part of the solution to help countries invest in education.
- Strengthen the resilience of education systems for equitable and sustainable development: Building back resilience requires a priority focus on equity and inclusion, with measures to address the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable learners and to ensure that economic strains and gender norms do not prevent girls from returning to school. Risk management capacities need to be reinforced at all levels.
- Reimagine education and accelerate positive change in teaching and learning: The scale of innovations made in a short time to ensure learning continuity proves that change can happen quickly. They have set the ground to reimagine education and build systems that are more forward-looking, inclusive, flexible and resilient. Solutions must address learning losses, preventing dropouts, particularly of the most marginalized, and ensuring the social and emotional welfare of students, teachers and staff. Other priorities include better support to the teaching profession, removing barriers to connectivity, investing in digital technologies and flexible learning pathways.
Link to SG Policy brief
The Policy Brief includes new UNESCO projections on additional children and youth (pre-primary to tertiary) who may drop or not have access to school next year due to the economic impact of the pandemic: 23.8 million. Projections paper: UNESCO COVID-19 Advocacy Paper: “How many students are at risk of not returning to school?
To spur global momentum around the need to protect and reimagine education now and post-COVID, a multi-partner coalition of global organizations are launching the SaveOurFuture campaign. This campaign will amplify the voices of children and young people and urge governments worldwide to recognize investment in education as a solution to the recovery. www.saveourfuture.world