On International Day of Education, UNICEF & UNESCO Call for Joint Action to Overcome Learning Loss Caused by Pandemic

Higher Education News International Studies by Erudera News Jan 24, 2022

Students in university

In a joint statement, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Mohamed Fall, and UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa Hubert Gijzen, urged responsible actors in education to play their part and help in overcoming the loss that education has suffered amid the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the statement, the learning loss that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused will be present for much longer. In their call to governments, the two directors said that school gates should always be the last to close and the first to open, Erudera.com reports.

They further urged governments to honor their commitments to the Paris Declaration and allocate at least four percent of GDP or 15 percent of public spending to education but also required more social protection for vulnerable families so students would be more encouraged to pursue education.

UNICEF and UNESCO Regional Directors applauded the work of teachers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, describing them as the “most vital frontline workers” during the pandemic, as well as urged the latter to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when eligible.

“We call on your employers to allocate additional resources to cater for your learners, particularly the most vulnerable and urge you to adjust your teaching methods to the new context. We also strongly encourage you to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when available,” the statement reads.

The call was also addressed to the private sector and other development partners, requiring them to work with UNESCO and UNICEF to ensure a better academic year in 2022 as well as to support students so they can catch up on the learning they have lost as a result of closures amid the crisis.

“We urge you to substantially increase funding for distance learning modalities, including digital technology and innovation, to protect against learning gaps and prepare students for future jobs in an increasingly digital world, it adds.

The letter closed with acknowledging the role of each education institution in overcoming the crisis in education, pointing out that “the future of the continent depends on our joint ability to do so.”

Two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning globally, leading to many closures of schools and universities, and education switching to the remote version. Currently, despite the spread of the new COVID-19 omicron variant, in-person education continues in many countries around the world.

Data by the World Bank indicate that there are around 220 million students in tertiary education in the world, an increase from 100 million in 2000. According to Statista Research Department, only 66 percent of the world’s population completed secondary education in 2020.

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