On school reopening
Statement by Dr. Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam
UNICEF welcomes and fully supports the decision to reopen schools in Malaysia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on children’s lives, disrupting familiar patterns and impacting their education and mental health. The longer children remain out of school, the greater the learning loss and irreversible harm for children.
The school is a microcosm of society, where children can access all sorts of provisions like psychosocial support, nutrition, besides their education. It is a safe space for all children. Schools reopening will allow students to access these services, and to learn, connect and play with their friends again.
As a priority, teachers and school personnel should be vaccinated against COVID-19, once frontline health workers and high-risk populations are vaccinated. This will help protect teachers from the virus, allow them to teach in person, and ultimately keep schools open.
In line with UNICEF global priorities, and beyond school reopening, we are working closely with the Ministry of Education Malaysia to reimagine education especially for the most marginalized children wherever they are. We need to develop and strengthen digital and remote learning, internet connectivity, affordable data and devices, and engagement so that children have the skills they need for the future. This is an opportunity for the education system in Malaysia to build back better.
We acknowledge that these are difficult decisions. UNICEF will continue to support the government with technical advice and co-create solutions to safeguard the future of every child in Malaysia. Together with other UN agencies, UNICEF has produced a multi-sectoral guide to reopen schools safely. The framework for reopening schools can be accessed here: https://www.unicef.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/Framework-for-reopening-schools-2020.pdf
*Archive photo from 2018 for illustration purposes only.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.