One in five children in fragile states at risk of dropping out of school as COVID wreaks havoc: Save the Children
Millions of children have not returned to school in low-income countries after classrooms closed by COVID-19 pandemic, with up to one in five children uneducated, new school survey reveals of Save the Children in six fragile countries.
The survey, which was conducted in 625 schools in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia and Uganda — have found that children are not returning to school due to child labor, child marriage and financial hardship, which is only getting worse with the pandemic. This is made worse by fears of catching the virus and the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
With very little data available on the number of children out of school due to the pandemic, Save the Children Report COVID Educational Time Bomb: Global Snapshot of Out-of-School Children reveals that more than 20% of the students questioned risk dropping out permanently with potentially devastating consequences for their future. With school closures still ongoing, the number of children who drop out is likely to increase. Over 90% of schools said there were children in their community who could go to school, but are not.
Being in school can protect children from various forms of abuse and exploitation, and provide children with nutritious food, a safe place to play and have fun, and a sense of hope for their future. The most vulnerable children – including girls, children from low-income households or living in rural areas, as well as migrants and refugees – are most at risk of dropping out due to the pandemic, according to reports. instant survey data.
Although school closures and disruptions affected all children, the impact was far greater for children in low-income countries, as some lost 20% more of their school days during the pandemic compared to other children.
In some countries, girls are particularly at risk of dropping out of school compared to boys, many being forced to marry and drop out of school. In Uganda, 52% of students who drop out are girls – and with fewer girls than boys in school even before the pandemic, this exacerbates existing inequalities in the country.
Up to 10 million more girls are now expected to marry by 2030 due to the pandemic. Child marriage is a violation of children’s rights that robs girls of their childhood. The practice disrupts their education and can have serious consequences for children’s mental health.
Save the Children warns that unless urgent action is taken, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to undo important educational gains made over the past 20 years.
Jasmine Jahromi, Team Leader of Save the Children’s Safe Back to School Initiative, said:
“Although schools are reopening around the world, not all children are coming back. In fact, we are seeing the opposite in many countries. This snapshot gives us insight into the long-term implications of COVID-19 on children’s education in these countries. Although the 20% dropout rate only applies to the schools surveyed, if* Replicated globally, we envision potentially tens of millions of children who never return to school due to the consequences of the pandemic. *
“COVID-19 has already caused the greatest disruption to education in human history, and its implications will continue for years without urgent action. The pandemic continues to push families into poverty, forcing many children to work or marry and drop out of school.
“We know that the most vulnerable and marginalized children have already suffered the greatest educational loss in the past 18 months, with little or no access to distance learning or education. Dropping out of school now will only delay them further.
Save the Children calls on governments and donors to urgently invest in education now so that every child is helped to return to school when it is safe to do so. Increased efforts are needed to tackle the specific barriers that prevent the most vulnerable and marginalized children from returning to school, especially girls, children from low-income households, children with disabilities and migrant children and refugees. This can include cash transfers, school meals, remedial lessons, and mental health and psychosocial support.
Ms Jahromi continued:
“We can do something to prevent the education crisis of the pandemic from worsening, but time is running out. The longer children are out of school, the less likely they are to return to school. We need to act now and see governments invest in tackling the fallout before it is too late.
Notes to editor:
- Save the Children conducted an instant survey in six priority countries with schools fully or partially open between May and July 2021, to collect information on the number of out-of-school students, who they are and why they dropped out. The survey interviewed 625 schools in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia and Uganda – around 100 schools per country. It is important to note that this is an instant survey and will serve as the basis for more comprehensive data collection. The figures in this press release and in the report are national extrapolations based on the results of surveys carried out in each country.
- According to the World Bank, out of 720 million children of primary school age, 382 million have learning difficulties, either outside of school or below the minimum proficiency level in reading. COVID-19 could increase that number from an additional 72 million to 454 million: https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/163871606851736436/pdf/Learning-Poverty-in-the-Time-of-COVID-19- A -crisis-in-a-crisis.pdf
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- We have Jasmine Jahromi available as a spokesperson.