For “future green spouts” of humanity

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused both physical and emotional harm to children, threatening the future of a generation. Therefore, the implementation of educational rehabilitation and a comprehensive care programme is key to protect the “green spouts” of humanity as the COVID-19 storm has not yet ended.

COVID-19 pandemic has caused both physical and emotional harm to children. (Illustrative image/Source:
COVID-19 pandemic has caused both physical and emotional harm to children. (Illustrative image/Source:

“I felt like I was trapped in my own little house and everyone was far away. During the beginning of quarantine, I was so alone.”, shared Aya Raji (14) from New York in The New York Times. She said she could not sleep until 4 am.

Like Aya, many young people around the world also have faced psychological and mental problems as schools were closed and social communication opportunities were limited. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recently conducted a survey of over 22,000 young people from 21 countries. The results showed that about 63 percent of young people said they “often” felt nervous. Young people also felt depressed or had little interest in doing things. American experts called on countries to act quickly before the mental health crisis reaches an alarming level among young people.

Not only leaving an “invisible impact” mentally, the COVID-19 pandemic has deprived children of opportunities to learn and develop skills. Australian media recently published a report showing the proportion of children making progress in the five key developmental dimensions has fallen in the country due to the pandemic. Online teaching and learning models have been strengthened in many countries. However, it is undeniable that online learning has many limitations and cannot completely replace face-to-face learning.

UNICEF's Executive Director Catherine Russell noted that if children do not have direct interaction with their teachers and peers, their learning will be affected. This disruption in learning also causes consequences including an increase in child labour and child marriage.

It is worth mentioning that more and more children are unable to continue going to school after schools reopened. In Liberia, 43 percent of public school students did not return to classrooms when schools reopened in December 2020. Meanwhile, the number of children out of school in South Africa reached 750,000 between March 2020 and July 2021, triple that of March 2020.

Whenever a new wave of COVID-19 pandemic breaks out, schools are always one of the first to close so that children lose a healthy environment to acquire knowledge as well as develop their physical and mental well-being. The opening of schools during the pandemic has been a controversial issue. However, up to now, following over two years of COVID-19, the international community has acknowledged that it is not possible to completely control the pnademic but only adapt safely and flexibly. The reopening of schools is a priority task for many countries, with vaccination against COVID-19 the key to a safe school environment.

Many other initiatives have also been launched to help children develop skills during the pandemic, eliminating their feelings of loneliness. According to Professor Iram Siraj from Oxford University, parents need to read books to their children and spend time playing games with their children, because these activities help children develop language and supplement knowledge. Parents should also share any concerns with their children’s teachers because they can give the best support to them.

Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Chief of Education, once warned that the pandemic is putting the world at the risk of a lost generation. Without urgent action, many countries will lose their source of skilled workers to serve in the cause of socio-economic development. It is time for countries to carefully consider and implement a safe reopening of schools based on specific assessments regarding the pandemic, for a comprehensive developmental environment and "future green sprouts".

Translated by NDO