By Hollie Warren, Education Director: Save the Children
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown more than ever that global crises require global solutions. In the face of an unparalleled global health emergency, the international community came together in April in what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the “new era of global health cooperation”. The World Health Organization (WHO) directed a virtual meeting Here, world leaders have agreed to work together on a coronavirus vaccine and share research, treatments, and drugs around the world. This was followed in May Virtual summit hosted by the EU There, the heads of state and government pledged almost 7.4 billion euros for research into COVID-19 vaccines and therapies and pledged that the money will be used to distribute vaccines to poor countries in a timely and fair manner.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a global health emergency, however. Efforts to contain the spread of the virus – such as school closings – are having a devastating impact on the lives of children everywhere, especially in the poorest countries. School closings put girls at risk of marrying children, she has allegedly doubled in parts of Malawi, according to Care International, where around half of all girls were married before the pandemic before the age of 18. Reports of teenage pregnancies According to the International Rescue Committee, some areas in northern Kenya have seen pregnancies three times higher than the same period last year. Girls living in refugee camps are particularly at risk. At the Kakuma refugee camp, 62 pregnancies were reported in June 2020, compared with 8 in June last year.
Save the Children launched ours a month ago Save our education Campaign highlighting the impact of school closings on children around the world. We have warned that the poorest and most vulnerable children are at risk of not going back to school. Our estimates suggest that around 10 million children may never return due to the economic impact of the pandemic and increasing child poverty.
For example, our team in Uganda has reported a doubling in teenage pregnancies, an increase in child labor and child marriage, and increased reports of violence against children in some of the areas in which we work. Since the end of March, 15 million children have left school in Uganda, including 600,000 refugee children. 85 out of 136 districts in Uganda have reported no cases of COVID-19.
Investing in education is important to protect the lives of vulnerable children. So far, the international community has not sufficiently recognized the enormous learning crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and the importance of education for the recovery. This has resulted in limited action and, to date, a shocking lack of investment in education.
The Global Partnership for Education has quickly risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and unlocked a total of $ 500 million to help developing countries mitigate the immediate and long-term effects of the pandemic. Education Cannot Wait has asked donors to fund their emergency fund with a total of $ 50 million. So far, however, he has received just over half that amount. With outreaches to millions of children around the world, these are worrying signs that the urgency is not being responded to.
However, this is more than just money. The international community needs to coordinate more closely to strengthen the global educational architecture and implement an urgent plan of action that will respond to the COVID-19 emergency and general learning crisis.
Save the Children is calling for a global COVID-19 education action plan that focuses on concrete action over the next 12 to 18 months – specifically, ensuring that all children return to school and are supported in making up for lost learning. This plan should set out the targeted measures national governments should take to return all children, especially the most marginalized, to school safely. These can be: targeted money transfers; Learning assessments on return to school to assess lost learning, linked to the appropriate catch-up classes; WASH facilities in schools; and local and community back-to-school campaigns to encourage school opening. This plan should be fully calculated with the support of both bilateral and multilateral donors.
Some coordination efforts are being made, including Save our future Campaign and UNESCO Global Education Coalition. Saw it last week too a letter Led by UN Special Envoy on Global Education Gordon Brown and signed by nearly 300 past and present world leaders and experts who highlight the need for a major global effort to address the education crisis. However, there is a real risk that these efforts will end up in an echo chamber – instead of being heard by those who can make real change.
Our recovery from this crisis requires global collaboration and leadership on more than just vaccines. This is an unprecedented education crisis that could seriously damage the future of the COVID generation if urgent and coordinated global action is not taken today.
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