UNICEF, EU concerned about impact of school closures on children
897 million schoolchildren worldwide were affected by disruptions to their education due to COVID-19 related lockdowns
BRUSSELS/NEW YORK, 22 April 2021 – With millions of schoolchildren still affected by COVID-related school closures in countries around the world, senior officials from UNICEF and the European Union expressed serious concern about the impact on their education and well-being.
As of early April, 897 million schoolchildren worldwide were affected by disruptions to their education due to COVID-19 related lockdowns. For the most vulnerable children, the longer they stay out of school, the more likely they are to never return and to miss out on the learning, nutrition and health services that schools provide.
“We are on the brink of a catastrophic education emergency,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. "Our message is clear: No effort should be spared to keep schools open and prioritize them in reopening plans.”
"Knowledge is one thing that cannot be taken away from you. Providing our children with education is our duty and responsibility, to ensure they can build their own future with the best possible tools at hand,” said Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. “Far too many children today are living in home conditions that prevent them from getting the education that they deserve. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated an already far too big gap. It is vital that children’s views and rights are taken into account in education policy and decisions. Through education, we are building the next generation. That is why it is important that we give all children around the world an equal opportunity."
To further advocate for the need to prioritize children’s education, UNICEF and the European Union launched a video campaign through social media, with the objective of reaching 100 million people worldwide, including policy makers. The video offers tips for parents and communities on who to support their children’s learning, highlighting the challenges children face with remote education and therefore underlying the need to return to school.