UNICEF reports that over 154 million children in the Caribbean and Latin America are temporarily out of school because of COVID-19—a real educational crisis. To help with the situation, UNICEF (with partner organizations) has launched #LearningAtHome, a regional outreach campaign. The Voice writes:
Approximately 90 per cent of early childhood centres and pre-primary, primary and secondary schools in both regions will stay closed over the next few weeks, possibly months. UNICEF officials said that if the situation lasts longer than initially planned, there was a high chance that vulnerable children would permanently drop out of school.
Flexible distance learning
They are urging governments to take measures to ensure that children’s education is not interrupted by introducing a range of flexible distance learning which would include pupils who did not have internet access or those living with a disability. UNICEF, together with a number of partner orgnisations, has launched #LearningAtHome a regional outreach campaign that provides families and educators in the region with free educational and entertainment tools, as well as tips and examples of good health and hygiene practices.
Bernt Aasen, Regional Director a.i. UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean said: “This is an unprecedented educational crisis in the recent history of Latin America and the Caribbean. Never have so many schools been closed at the same time.
“The expansion of the coronavirus COVID-19 will leave most boys and girls out of school in the coming weeks. If school closure is further extended, there is a great risk that children fall behind in their learning and we fear that the most vulnerable students will never return to school. It is vital that they do not stop learning from home.”
Aasen continued: “To continue their education at home, all available tools and channels will have to be used, whether through radio, television, internet or cell phones. We will only be able to face this challenge through a joint effort of governments, the private sector, parents and children.”
The closure of schools also implies the interruption of access to other important basic services, such as school meals, recreational programs, extracurricular activities and pedagogical support.
School health, water, sanitation and hygiene services will also be affected.
UNICEF said it was essential for schools that remain open to ensure access to soap and safe water and to promote hygiene practices.