Since its outbreak in late December 2019, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world and like any critical sector, education has been hit hard. Students, schools, colleges, and universities have been deeply impacted. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), over 800 million learners from around the world have been affected, 1 in 5 learners cannot attend school, 1 in 4 cannot attend higher education classes, and over 102 countries have ordered nationwide school closures while 11 have implemented localized school closure.
Globally, over 200,000 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in more than 160 countries, which have resulted in more than 8,000 deaths and left several States dealing with severe outbreaks. The COVID-19 pandemic will adversely impact the progress some governments were making around increasing the education budget. Therefore, this is a crisis that requires urgent attention and collective action by all Governments, stakeholders, and communities.
Each day millions of children do not go to school due to emergencies and ongoing humanitarian crises. The outbreak of COVI-19 has compounded the plight of learners in countries affected and or emerging from conflict and disaster. While the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) acknowledges the public health decision to close schools, we believe that contingency plans should be in place to ensure the right to education even in times of crisis. GCE is convinced that all learners no matter where they live and circumstances have a right to education. Education is an essential right for children, young and adults in emergencies and must be a priority from the very beginning of any and all emergency responses.
“Governments and civil society concerted efforts that mobilize resources, and expertise to address the impact of COVID-19 on education are urgently required. This process should include developing long term strategies to address the needs of education in emergencies” Grant Kasowanjete, GCE Global Coordinator.
Refat Sabbah, GCE President, further added: “All GCE members around the world, INGOs, regional networks and national education coalitions, stand in solidarity to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. GCE reaffirms its willingness to work in close collaboration with governments and world leaders to find appropriate solutions and mitigating measures to ensure the right to education throughout these challenging times.”
GCE calls on the national governments, and donors:
● To prioritize education in the first phase of all emergency responses with immediate effect, and to Include education in their COVID-19 response policies.
● To dedicate appropriate resources, financial and technical, to ensure the right to free, quality public education for all is maintained during the COVID-19 crisis.
● To increase funding and support to education in crises to a minimum of 4.2% of emergency assistance in line with its needs.
● To minimize the pressure on teachers, schools and school systems that remain open or volunteer to offer extra support.