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Back to Health: Making Up for Lost Time

Transforming Education After the Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has hit the most vulnerable children hardest and exposed the worsening inequality of learning opportunities. Governments and international organizations must deliver a global recovery based on providing quality education for all children.

LONDON – As many countries cautiously reopen classrooms, schools remain crucial barometers of our progress toward ending the COVID-19 crisis. We need to keep children healthy while protecting their right to an education, but the pandemic has hit the most vulnerable children hardest and exposed the worsening inequality of learning opportunities. We must now heed these harsh lessons and transform education systems to make them more equitable, effective, and resilient.

School closures have been one of the many measures that governments have adopted to contain a virus that so far has claimed 3.4 million lives. At their peak, over 1.6 billion children were cut off from education – half of them in low- and lower middle-income countries.

Although we cannot yet fully grasp the long-term implications of this lost learning for the hundreds of millions who are still missing out on school, it clearly will have a life-changing impact on the most vulnerable children, especially girls. An estimated 20 million girls may never set foot in a classroom again because they have been sent to work to help provide for their families. As many as 13 million could be forced into early marriage and thus forego their education altogether. For millions of others, school closures have increased their risk of teenage pregnancy or of becoming victims of domestic violence.

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