Globally, over 1.5 billion children have had their schools closed due to COVID-19 since early 2020.1 For the first time in history, an entire generation of children have had their education disrupted.In Cambodia, more than 3 million children have been out of school for over most of the past year, with two major waves of schools closures since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.2 The loss, on average, of nearly 10% of children’s expected total lifetime schooling will not only have caused significant learning losses, but has put many children at risk of dropping out of school entirely.
The most marginalised and deprived children, including children from poor families, remote communities, and children with disabilities, are most at risk of losing out on learning during school closures, and not returning to the classroom after they reopen. We know from previous crises that the longer children are out of school, the greater the risk that they do not return to school, and that they will lose out on vital learning.
This emergency comes on top of an existing learning crisis. Globally, UNESCO’s most recent projections for Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) – a free, quality education for every child – are dire: they predict almost no progress on reducing the number of children who are out of school by 2030.
All of this comes at a time when education budgets are under pressure, as governments have shifted spending towards the health and economic response to the pandemic.
Unless action is taken now, the long-term legacies of the pandemic will be rising inequality and a devastating impact on children’s learning and future life chances.
Author : Jess Edwards from Save the Children International