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Education Is Crucial to Africa’s COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 has presented African policymakers with a barrage of difficult choices. But if governments continue to invest in education alongside health, social protection, and economic-recovery initiatives, they will bolster young people’s wellbeing and enhance the welfare of families, communities, and countries.

WASHINGTON, DC – African political leaders have their hands full: rising COVID-19 infections, fragile health systems, increasing food insecurity, and, in some areas, growing social unrest. And as government revenues dry up amid the continent’s sharpest economic contraction in decades, the resources available to address these challenges are dwindling.

For now, cash-strapped governments and their international development partners are rightly putting public health, social protection, and economic stimulus first. But they appear to be forgetting one of their most important tools: education.

Recent analyses indicate that some African governments are cutting education budgets in response to the pandemic – and if the 2008 global financial crisis is any guide, donors will do so, too. And whereas governments were able to maintain education budgets during the 2008 crisis by issuing debt, the continent’s current public-debt burdens are already heavy, and borrowing conditions are unfavorable.