By Ahmed Rahma
One of the most widespread and recognisable social welfare organisations in the world, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has highlighted the impacts of school closure on the students.
In a statement yesterday, while speaking about schools closure due to COVID-19 pandemic, the agency warned that the number of out-of-school children could rise by 24 million to a level not seen in years.
Revealing the percentage of students the action has affected worldwide, it said, “School closures have affected 90 per cent of students worldwide and denied a third of school children access to remote education.”
“Children’s ability to read, write and do basic mathematics has suffered, and the skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century economy have diminished.
“Their health, development, safety and well-being are at risk. The most vulnerable among them will bear the heaviest brunt.
“Without school meals, children are left hungry and their nutrition is worsening.
“Without daily interactions with their peers and a reduction in mobility, they are losing physical fitness and showing signs of mental distress,” the agency noted.
“Assessing the risk of transmission at the local level should be a key determinant in decisions on school operations.
“Nationwide school closures must be avoided whenever possible,” the agency emphasized.
It further stated that, “Where there are high levels of community transmission, where health systems are under extreme pressure and where closing schools is deemed inevitable, safeguarding measures must be put in place.
“This includes ensuring that children who are at risk of violence in their homes, who are reliant upon school meals and whose parents are essential workers are able to continue their education in their classrooms.
“In case of lockdowns, schools must be among the first to reopen once authorities start lifting restrictions.
“Catch-up classes should be prioritised to ensure that children who have been unable to learn remotely are not left behind.
“If children are faced with another year of school closures, the effects will be felt for generations to come.”