Covid; 100 million children fall behind reading capability

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More than 100 million more children than expected are falling behind the minimum proficiency level in reading because of Covid 19 related school closures, according to a new report from UNESCO. The report “One year into COLD Prioritizing education recovery to avoid generational catastrophe,” noted that the number of children lacking basic reading skills was on a downward curve even before the pandemie.

It reported that the number of children who lacked reading skills jumped to 584 million in 2020. The rise of more than 20 per cent, wiped out two decades of education gains, the agency said.

Learning losses

The UNESCO report said that complete or partial closure of schools disrupted schooling for an average of 25 weeks after the pandemie began. The report pointed out that Latin America and Caribbean region, Central and Southern Asia experienced the highest losses. The report maintained that a year of Covid pandemic shows that a return to the pre-pandemie pathway may take a decade. However, the UNESCO underscores that recovery could occur by 2024 “if exceptional efforts are made to provide remedial classes and catch up strategies”.

In the report, the UNESCO also come across a joint survey conducted by UNESCO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEE), that said that only a quarter of students are benefiting from remedial education.

Opening doors

In the report, the UNESCO said that several countries are increasingly taking measures to keep schools at least partially open. It said that schools are currently fully open in 107 countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and Europe, serving 400 million pre-primary to secondary learners. However, it said that school closures in 30 countries impacted some 165 million students Schools in 70 countries are partially open for some grades, or with reduced in-person attendance that affected about two thirds of the global student population or nearly one billion children.

Prioritizing education

The UNESCO in the report has called for reopening the schools with greater support for teachers, initiatives to prevent pupils dropping out, and an acceleration of the availability of digital learning tools. The reopening of schools will help to mitigate dropout rates and learning losses, the report notes. Further, it stated that 65 per cent of governments in low-income countries have reduced education funding compared to 35 per cent in high income States.

 

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