We Cannot Let the Education Gap Widen at the Start of the Decade of Action

Yasmine Sherif is Director, Education Cannot

By Yasmine Sherif
NEW YORK, May 13 2020 (IPS)

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we estimated that 75 million
children and youth – of whom 39 million are girls – were not
able to access a quality education in countries impacted by armed
conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and climate
change-induced emergencies. The impact of COVID-19 has both
globally and exponentially deepened the already existing critical
education crisis.

Yasmine Sherif

In countries affected by humanitarian crises, restrictive movement
measures (including curfews), have led to the closure of schools
and loss of access to education, psychosocial services, school
feeding, hygiene and protection – all components of a quality

In many of these countries, weak infrastructure does not allow
for remote learning through technology. In most parts of
Afghanistan, in the Central African Republic or in Chad, to mention
just a few, remote technological learning is simply not an option
today – further contributing to the education divide. At the same
time, we know that quality, inclusive education is a foundational
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) necessary to advance all other

In the words of the President of the UN General Assembly,
Tijjani Muhammad-Bande: “Given the importance of education in
achieving the 2030 Agenda, we must ensure that we urgently tackle
the disruptions that the pandemic has already caused … While it
has been easier for developed countries to transit to remote
learning, many governments around the world found it difficult or

The President of the UN General Assembly concluded, “We cannot
allow this pandemic to widen the educational gap that already
exists. I call on you all [193 Member States] to make cooperation
in education a key element in your response to this

Indeed, in countries affected by armed conflicts and forced
displacement, we can expect to see a significant increase in
long-term loss of access to inclusive quality education due to
COVID-19. We will see an increase in school drop-out rates and a
reduction in psychosocial support and other protection mechanisms
for students and teachers alike. This, in turn, will impact
socio-economic development and the ability to build back

A crisis, however complicated it is, must be a trigger for
immediate action, rather than a cause for delay. An early response
stands greater chances of mitigating the impact and reduce the risk
of a growing education divide. As the President of the UN General
Assembly highlighted, education needs to be a priority within the
COVID-19 response.

Thanks to the support of Education Cannot Wait’s strategic
donor constituency, a coordinated, comprehensive emergency
investment was rapidly released in April to UN agencies and Civil
Society organizations to enable them to quickly deliver education
support for vulnerable girls and boys in 26 crisis-affected

This emergency investment empowers: Ministries of Education in
developing catch-up programmes and condensed curricula to prevent
loss in the school year; production of distance learning material
for pre-primary, primary and secondary levels; home-based learning
and special measures for children with disabilities; expansion of
radio and television education; COVID-19 awareness raising for
children, parents and teachers; disinfection of schools; access to
improved water and hygiene facilities and supplies; psychosocial
counselling; and, the continued payment of teachers’ salaries
during the crisis.

However, the needs remain enormous and urgent. Education Cannot
Wait will therefore release a second round of investments in June.
To this end, we have launched an appeal to both public and private
sector donors for $50 million. We are deeply grateful to the United
Kingdom and the LEGO Foundation for their swift contributions to
cover 42% of the appeal, while Denmark has matched and frontloaded
committed funding. However, at the time of writing, $29 million, is
still urgently needed.

Unless we invest in education now – in the midst of the global
COVID-19 crisis – much of the progress made through joint efforts
among many different actors and organizations will be lost; perhaps
irreversibly for millions of girls and boys, whose vulnerabilities
will rapidly increase. Whatever befalls us in the coming ten years,
whatever crises we face, there is one thing we cannot do. We cannot
slide back on our progress and let the gap widen during the Decade
of Action.

The post
We Cannot Let the Education Gap Widen at the Start of the Decade of
appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Yasmine Sherif is Director, Education Cannot

The post
We Cannot Let the Education Gap Widen at the Start of the Decade of
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
We Cannot Let the Education Gap Widen at the Start of the
Decade of Action