PANAMA CITY / NEW YORK, October 5. UNICEF and UNDP published a new report highlighting the impact of the pandemic on education due to schools’ closure and the profound inequalities in the development opportunities for boys and girls. This was revealed in the report presented today: “COVID-19 and primary and secondary education: repercussions of the crisis and public policy implications for Latin America and the Caribbean”.
The measures adopted by the governments have entailed the closure of multiple economic activities, the loss of employment and the income source of millions of families. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC estimates an increase in the poverty rate of at least 14.5%, which represents 28.7 million more people living in poverty.
The abrupt loss of household’s incomes will create pressure for children, particularly adolescents, to drop out from school not only because of the expenses involved in studying, but also because of the need to generate additional incomes. ECLAC and ILO estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 children and adolescents in the region would enter the labor market as a result of the pandemic, leaving their education aside.
Distance learning strategies have arrived unevenly, in part due to pre-existing inequalities in access to resources such as connectivity, devices and environments conducive to learning, which can further exacerbate educational gaps in the region.
The unequal access to the necessary resources for learning and to good quality distance learning modalities, means that the losses in human capital are concentrated in the most vulnerable groups of the population:
- Children and youth in rural areas with low connectivity who have less access to effective distance learning modalities.
- Children in poor households experiencing difficulties covering basic nutritional needs or providing a proper study area, or who even in areas with internet access, do not have enough electronic devices to access remote education through digital tools;
- Children in single-parent households or with low educational levels where parents cannot offer accompaniment or an environment conducive to study.
- Children from indigenous populations and those with disabilities will also be disproportionately affected as long as distance learning solutions do not suit their language or learning needs.
Governments should focus their efforts on planning the reopening of schools with a sense of urgency, maintaining the protective role of the school, guaranteeing services that have been interrupted, and ensuring the emotional well-being of the educational community.
You can download the full study here
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Ana Maria Currea, UNDP Regional Bureau, +1 202 309-4981, email@example.com
Marisol Quintero, UNICEF Regional Bureau +507 6569 2718, firstname.lastname@example.org
 ECLAC, & ILO. (2020). La pandemia por el COVID-19 podría incrementar el trabajo infantil en América Latina y el Caribe. Technical Note No.1, Santiago, Chile