New York (UNA-OIC) – More than 168 million schoolchildren globally missed out on learning in class, as schools in some 14 countries remained largely shut for almost an entire year due to coronavirus-related lockdowns, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported on Wednesday.
“As we approach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are again reminded of the catastrophic education emergency worldwide lockdowns have created,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a news release, announcing the agency’s findings.
“With every day that goes by, children unable to access in-person schooling fall further and further behind, with the most marginalized paying the heaviest price,” she added.
According to UNICEF, nine of the 14 countries, where schools remained mostly closed between March 2020 to February 2021, are in the Latin American and Caribbean region, affecting nearly 100 million students. Of these countries, Panama kept schools closed for the most days, followed by El Salvador, Bangladesh, and Bolivia.
In addition, around 214 million children – one in seven pupils globally – missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning, while over 888 million continue to face disruptions to their education due to full and partial school closures, according to UN data.
Executive Director Fore called on all nations to keep schools open, or prioritize them in reopening plans where they are closed.
“We cannot afford to move into year two of limited or even no in-school learning for these children. No effort should be spared to keep schools open, or prioritize them in reopening plans,” she highlighted.