Many children deprived of opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Tuesday, 2021-12-14 18:37:07
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NDO - The COVID-19 pandemic has been raging in the world for nearly two years. Thus, hundreds of millions of children have suffered severe physical and mental impacts, including many being deprived of opportunities to learn and develop skills. The pandemic has not only set back the progress that has been made in the global education sector, but also created lasting consequences tothe future of a generation.

According to a recent report by the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), it is anticipated that generations of current students could face the risk of losing 17 trillion USD in income in their lifetime due to the disruption of in-personteaching caused by the pandemic. The figure is much higher than the 10 trillion USD estimated by the above organisations in 2020.

In order to foster knowledge for students during the pandemic, online teaching and learning models have been promoted in many countries. However, reality shows that online learning still has many limitations and cannot completely replace face-to-face learning.

Many areas in the world do not have enough conditions to serve online learning due to low internet coverage, lack of digital devices, and others. According to UNICEF, hundreds of millions of children in South Asia are suffering disadvantages because they do not have the necessary equipment for online learning.

The longer schools are closed, the greater risk that children will lose future opportunities. UNICEF estimates that more than 100 million children globally do not achieve basic literacy skills due to disruptions in learning. The degree of influence in learning is also uneven among children.

The report indicates that girls in general face more difficulties in accessing distance education than boys. Poor and disabled children have little access to online learning due to lack of technology skills, limited financial capacity, and others.

Not only causing many children to lose access to education, the COVID-19 pandemic also has long-lasting consequences on children's physical and mental health, which may persist even after the pandemic ends.

According to the AP, the number of children and adolescents in the US who suffer from obesity has increased from 19.3% in 2019 to 22.4% in August 2020. The closure of schools is one of the main causes of this situation because children are limited in physical activities. In addition, the pandemic also leaves an “invisible hurt” on children mentally. More than one in seven adolescents aged 10 to 19 globally has been diagnosed with a mental disorder. The school closure for a long time disrupts relationships with friends and social interactions.

Tanya Chapuisat, UNICEF Representative in Jordan, warned about the serious impact of the pandemic on the mental life of young people, saying that agencies need to coordinate many measures to help solve psychological problems for young people both in terms of health and education.

UNICEF has called on countries to find ways to safely bring students back to school to avoid a “generational disaster” and warned that the harms when students are outof school can never be compensated. The COVID-19 pandemic is about to enter its third year and safe and gradual reopening of schools will be a necessary step to prevent lasting consequences for children.