To mark the International Day of Education today (Sunday, 24 January), the Spain based INGO Educo warns that COVID-19 puts children’s right to education at risk. “The economic and social consequences of the pandemic are making it difficult for millions of children all over the world to exercise their right to education. It is important to make it very clear that education is not a service, it is a right, and therefore it must be guaranteed. For this reason, governments must take the necessary measures to ensure this” affirms the Executive Director of Educo, Pilar Orenes.
According to Educo, COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented educational emergency and has exacerbated existing educational inequalities that affect the most vulnerable children in particular. Faced with this situation, Educo is mostly concerned about the possibility for ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education by 2030, as pledged by states internationally, is becoming more remote.
Educo believes that, right now for the effect of pandemic, the five challenges in education which society is facing and which governments should address: reverse the increase in school drop-out rates, ensure the quality of learning, prevent further inequity in education so that children have the same opportunities now and in future, keep schools open whenever possible and provide socio-emotional support for children within the educational context.
According to Educo Bangladesh’s Country Director Abdul Hamid “It is necessary to work collectively to get back all children who have left school since the school closure. Particularly for Bangladesh, there are several causes, for instance: loss of family members, forced to work due to families’, financial situation, separation from families became vulnerable. Dropping out of school affects boys and girls and socially excluded groups differently. , so we need to have specific strategies, especially for girls and focus of getting them back to school”.
Additionally, Educo Bangladesh itself is working and strongly giving emphasis to ensure the quality of the education, especially in case of partial or totally remote learning, as it must not depend on the context of each child. Educo also sheds light on avoiding more inequity with regards to access to education and continuing to fight against the inequity that existed before the arrival of the pandemic. It is necessary to keep schools open as long as the WASH situation allows it. It has to be considered that the schools are also protective spaces, in which children are safe and less at risk from suffering all kinds of violence, like child labour, child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, smuggling, etc.
To overcome the situation, Educo strongly recommended to School Authority to give their dedicated time and space for providing socio-emotional support to children after the difficulties which they have experienced and continue to experience as a result of the pandemic, like financial problems in their families, the lack of social relationships and increasing uncertainty about the future.