Activists have implored the world leaders to give priority to school systems and restore educational budgets that were reduced during the pandemic at a summit on transforming education, held at the UN General Assembly. The summit sought commitments from nations to ensure that children around the world, from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States, don’t fall too far behind in education.
During Covid schools around the world were closed, and learning for many children had stopped for months. Many could not afford remote learning. This came as no surprise considering 800 million people worldwide lacked internet access, according to a study by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union in December 2020.
Moreover, the time period for which the school buildings were closed varied widely around the world. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, the average estimated education delays ranged from 12 months for students in South Asia to less than four months for students in Central Asia and Europe.
According to Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General, most schools are now back open, but around 244 million school children are still out of school. Reminding of the deep inequalities among different geographical areas in accessing education, he informed that most of these children belonged to sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Central and Southern Asia.
“Education financing must be a priority for Governments,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the General Assembly as reported by The Week. “It is the single most important investment any country can make in its people and its future,” he added.
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