Article Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Despite progress, the world is not on track to meet 2030 education targets. Before the coronavirus crisis, projections showed that more than 200 million children would be out of school, and only 60 percent of young people would be completing upper secondary education in 2030. However, education systems worldwide have been hit hard and abruptly by the pandemic. School closures to stop the spread of COVID-19 have affected the vast majority of the world’s student population.
In 2020, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, more than 190 countries have implemented nationwide school closures. About 90 percent of all students (1.57 billion) were out of school. Although distance learning solutions are provided in four out of five countries with school closures, at least 500 million children and youth are currently excluded from these options. The sheer magnitude of school closures is likely to set back progress on access to education.
For millions of children around the world, school is not only a place to learn. It is also a safe place, removed from violence, where they can receive free meals, and health and nutrition services such as vaccinations, deworming, and iron supplementation. An estimated 379 million children missed out on school meals because of school closures during the pandemic. Without them, many children go hungry, which also threatens their immune systems and their capacity to cope with the disease.
Lack of basic handwashing facilities in many schools around the world means that teachers and students do not enjoy a safe learning environment. In areas where schools are closed because of the pandemic, it also means that they will be unable to practice essential hygiene measures when they go back to school.