Author: UNESCO and Global Education Coalition
Geographical Scope: Regional
Exactly a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic brought learning to a screeching halt worldwide, creating the most severe global education disruption in history. At the peak of the crisis, UNESCO data showed that over 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries were out of school. Over 100 million teachers and school personnel were impacted by the sudden closures of learning institutions. Today, two-thirds of the world's student population is still affected by full or partial school closures. In 29 countries, schools remain fully closed.
The pandemic has exposed and deepened pre-existing education inequalities that were never adequately addressed. As always, it has impacted vulnerable and marginalized learners the hardest. The economic downturn of the crisis is now adding pressure on national education budgets and aid at a time when increased funding is needed for education recovery. Despite critical additional funding needs, two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries have cut their public education budgets since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent joint report by the World Bank and UNESCO.
In October last year, UNESCO convened a Global Education Meeting where world leaders and partners expressed their commitments to protect education financing and safeguard learning from the devastating impact of the pandemic.
From the onset of the crisis, UNESCO and its more than 160 partners through the Global Education Coalition have been mobilized around three central themes - connectivity, gender and teachers - to ensure that learning never stops during this unprecedented crisis.
From keeping schools open to bridging the digital divide -- from addressing dropouts and learning losses to calling for more education funding - UNESCO has been leading the way through intensive partnerships and innovations during the past year to prevent a "generational catastrophe" and build more resilient and inclusive education systems.