For almost a year, according to Unicef, more than 168 million children worldwide have been excluded from school because of measures against the corona pandemic. The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that 214 million children missed more than three quarters of their classes. Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore spoke of a “catastrophic education crisis” because of the global lockdown.
According to the report, 14 countries were largely in lockdown from March 2020 to February 2021. Two thirds of these countries belong to Latin America and the Caribbean and together have almost 98 million school children.
In schools, children would exchange ideas with their peers, receive support, access to health services and vaccinations, as well as a meal. The most vulnerable and the children without access to distance education are at an increased risk of never going back to school and being forced into child marriages or child labor, according to Unicef. “The most disadvantaged children pay the highest price,” Fore said. “We must leave no stone unturned to keep the schools open or to give priority to their rapid reopening.”
Unicef wants to draw attention to the educational crisis with the installation “Pandemic Classroom”: The model classroom shows 168 empty desks – one desk for one million children, whose schools have been almost completely closed for a year.
New increase in corona cases worldwide
Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 114.62 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide. More than 2.64 million died of or with the virus, according to a Reuters survey based on official data. The US is hardest hit with over 28.73 million infections and 515,116 deaths.
In a trend reversal, the number of new cases of Covid-19 increased by seven percent last week. The World Health Organization (WHO) published figures in Geneva on Tuesday evening for the first increase after six weeks of decline. Accordingly, 2.6 million cases were reported to the UN authority in Geneva in the last week of February.
This development could have to do with the spread of more contagious virus variants, the WHO wrote in a report. As other possible reasons, she named the relaxation of health measures and corona fatigue.
The strongest weekly increase was in the Middle East (14 percent), followed by Southeast Asia (9 percent), Europe (9 percent) and the American continent (6 percent). In contrast, almost a quarter fewer cases were reported from Africa than in the previous week. In the West Pacific region with East Asia and Australia, the numbers fell slightly.