Schools to be opened as soon as possible

UNICEF claims that opening schools while respecting all measures is of crucial importance not only for children to acquire knowledge, but also for their mental health and socialization

UNICEF Montenegro
A boy in the classroom
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2020
14 April 2021

PODGORICA, APRIL 14, 2021 – Dr Branka Bosnjak, Vice President of the Parliament and Co-Chair of the Women’s Club of the Parliament of Montenegro and Vesna Pavicevic, MP and Co-Chair of the Women’s Club of the Parliament of Montenegro, join UNICEF’s appeal that opening schools while respecting all measures is of crucial importance not only for children to acquire knowledge, but also for their mental health and socialization.

Political authorities need to show special sensitivity towards children living in poverty, who have not had adequate conditions or equipment to attend online classes and for whom education is the chance to escape poverty. For these reasons, it is necessary for schools to open as soon as possible to avoid as many negative consequences as possible that we will have to face in future. Together we all need to be responsible towards the future of our children. Open schools and health go hand in hand as long as we all respect the prevention measures.

dr Branka Bosnjak, Vice President of the Parliament

A UNICEF and UNESCO global report with data from 191 countries and other global evidence shows that so far no causal link has been observed between school openings and Covid-19 transmission.

The epidemiological situation is not satisfying and so, children and teachers suffer from this. The health of every individual is most important and so, it is necessary to respect the prevention measures to end this situation as soon as possible. An assessment of the epidemiological situation needs to be conducted urgently to allow children to go back to school, as this situation now affects their emotional and intellectual development and the education of every child.

Vesna Pavicevic, MP

Decades of experience and research point to the fact that prolonged school closures affect negatively children’s learning, their mental and physical health and expose them to higher risks of violence, abuse and neglect.

Many children living in poverty cannot follow online classes as they do not have access to new technologies. Children with disabilities suffer irreversible developmental delays due to the lack of quality, inclusive education which they can only get at school. Many Roma and Egyptian children are at risk of dropping out, which often leads to early marriages and child labor. Therefore, not only it is necessary to ensure that all children return to school as soon as possible, but it is as essential to start with preparations for the next school year with all stakeholders.

Juan Santander, UNICEF Montenegro Representative

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, according to OECD PISA results, Montenegrin students were lagging behind their peers in OECD countries by almost 1.5 school years. After almost one year of school closures this gap will have widened and young people are facing even bigger challenges to find decent employment when they leave school. For this reason, it is urgent to improve the overall quality and inclusiveness of education during and after the pandemic in order to enable children and adolescents to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in school and in the labour market.