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  • Lebanese workers spray desinfectant in classrooms and halls of a school in a coastal town of Rmeileh, Beirut, Feb 2, 2020.

    Lebanese workers spray desinfectant in classrooms and halls of a school in a coastal town of Rmeileh, Beirut, Feb 2, 2020. | Photo: AFP

Published 4 August 2020
Opinion

The UN Secretary-General said on Tuesday the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption to education in history.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) endorsed on Tuesday the call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to place education at the forefront of the post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

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With a statement, UNESCO backs up the report presented Tuesday by Guterres, in which he warned that the pandemic had caused the worst known disorder to the education systems in history, and prolonged school closures could further entrench inequalities in access to learning.

Describing education as “the key to personal development and the future of societies,” António Guterres issued recommendations to get children back in the classroom in a policy brief launched alongside a new global campaign called Save our Future.

According to the text of UNESCO, among the severe consequences of COVID-19 are a learning deficit that could affect more than a generation of students, and the probable end of the global education progresses after schools were closed to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

UNESCO predicts that at least 24 million students may not return to school by 2020, a prediction reflected by Guterres in his report, including nearly six million in South and West Asia and another five million in sub-Saharan Africa. Higher dropout rates and lower enrolment rates would hit higher education.

On the sight of that scenario, before 2020 ends UNESCO will hold a special session of the Global Education Coalition, an initiative launched in March by Director-General Audrey Azoulay, who insisted on Guterres’ call to protect investments in the education sector at all levels.

About this issue, Azoulay reiterated that COVID-19 would expand by a third the deficit in the necessary financing to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal in Education, agreed by the international community, a gap that currently reaches an impressive US$148 billion.

‘’These conclusions highlight the urgent need to ensure continuity of learning for all, especially the most vulnerable, in the face of this unprecedented crisis,’’ said Azoulay.

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