The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF released a new statement calling for countries to reopen schools that have been closed to millions of students for 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report by UNICEF released on Sep. 16, 131 million students worldwide have missed at least three-quarters of school instruction from the onset of the pandemic last year to September 2021.
Out of 131 million, 77 million students in six countries have missed “almost all in-person classroom instruction time.”
Among six countries whose schools remain closed, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Venezuela contribute the most number of students affected by full school closures.
“The losses that students are incurring from not being in school may never be recovered,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
UNICEF pointed out in their statement that children kept out of classrooms are missing out on key development activities such as socialization, while some are being long exposed to different forms of abuse.
“Many parents have been unable to continue with their employment while balancing their children’s care and learning needs,” UNICEF added.
Remote learning also remains a challenge, UNICEF highlighted, as many students struggle to access computers and internet.
UNICEF and its partners closed down their digital channels on Sep. 15 for 18 hours, marking 18 months of school closures, to call the attention of education authorities worldwide.
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