While schools are gradually reopening, there are still about 150 million children and adolescents all over the world that are affected by school closures. Yet, their number might increase again over the upcoming weeks, as the second COVID-19 wave is just beginning to hit the southern hemisphere. At the peak of the first wave of infections, about 810 million children in low-income countries were out of school. Only very few were able to participate in distance learning. The situation is particularly critical in low-income countries: nearly 90 percent of school-age children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to a computer at home, while 82 percent have no possibility to go online at all.
Due to school closures and a lack of digital infrastructure the education of millions of students is interrupted – many children and adolescents in project countries of the Kindernothilfe have not had school lessons or distance learning since March 2020. The education gap due to the lack of learning is immense. The global pandemic has intensified the already existing global education crisis. About 24 million children are at risk of not going back to school.
Reasons for dropping out of school are strongly connected to the economic situation: when parents are not able to pay the school fees anymore, children leave school to support their families financially. Especially girls are at risk of never going back to school. Through crises the number of early marriages and pregnancies rises, which makes coming back to school more difficult. Other than girls, fleeing children and children with disabilities are high-risk groups, which were mostly excluded from education even before the pandemic.
Due to dropping out, poverty and its negative consequences aggravate for the following generations. Thereby not only the already alarming global educational gap intensifies. In many countries of the global south the crisis will change and damage the educational systems strongly and thereby intensify the increasing educational inequality. While in many Latin American and African countries private schools had to close due to the economical crisis and students were forced into the public school system, in India a contrary trend enforces: the privatization of education is accelerating as parents from middle and upper class register their children in schools which are better equipped.
In order to stop and reverse the global educational crisis, now more than ever, comprehensive systemic investments are necessary. The focus on equal chances has to be a central element in the COVID-19-response of the government. The educational opportunity must not depend on the access to internet.
Contact: Malte Pfau, Advocacy-Officer, email@example.com