The Secretary-General of the United Nations warned of the gap that is widening due to the closing of schools and asked that the “main priority” be security in making decisions about returning to school.
As of mid-July, schools were still closed in nearly 160 countries, a situation that is affecting close to 1 billion students and that adds to the more than 250 million school-age children who were outside the educational system before the pandemic. In a video to launch a report on the impact of these closings, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres highlighted these and other figures and warned about the consequences that this crisis is reaching in the youngest.
“We are now facing a generational catastrophe that could waste incalculable human potential,” Guterres said in his statement, adding that this catastrophe could “undermine decades of progress and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.” The message was part of the “Save our future” or “Save our future” campaign.
“Returning to classes as safe as possible should be the top priority.”
Guterres presented the report prepared by the organization to analyze the impact of the closure of schools, institutes and universities and offer recommendations to policy makers. According to the analysis, the world was already experiencing an “education crisis” before the pandemic, partly due to the high numbers of unschooling, but also highlights that in developing countries, only a quarter of high school students finish their studies with basic skills.
Hence, for many it is urgent to reopen educational centers. But the UN Secretary General called for priority to be given to security.
“Once the local transmission of Covid-19 is under control, it must be a top priority to get students back to schools and educational institutions as safe as possible,” said Guterres. In addition, he said that “consultations” with parents, caregivers, teachers and youth is “essential”.
For the Secretary-General, “it will be essential to find a balance between the risks to health and the risks to the education and protection of children, and also take into account the impact on the participation of women in the workforce.”
However, in many countries back to school is still a matter of debate.
Donald Trump’s pressures to reopen schools and measures in Mexico
While the UN exposes these recommendations, the United States continues the debate between President Donald Trump and his opponents about the reopening of schools. The president has threatened to cut federal budget to institutions that do not return to classes in the fall and many parents and teachers reject his pressure, particularly in areas of the country where the outbreak is not yet controlled.
In Mexico, on the other hand, the government announced an agreement with private television channels to establish educational zones that allow students to continue their processes here. The Andrés Manuel López Obrador government recognizes that there are areas of the country where there is no coverage, or families that do not have televisions, but the Secretary of Education said that there will also be radio programs.
In any case, the UN warns that these types of measures continue to leave out the most vulnerable, who live in remote areas, belong to a minority, or suffer some type of disability. Hence, the organization insists on fixing the north on the return to school with the highest security measures.
Meanwhile, the UN calls on governments to prioritize education in the distribution of funds, protect and increase education budgets in public accounts, and called for this sector to be “at the center of international solidarity efforts.”
With EFE and Reuters