Almost 300 million students in thirteen countries have had their education disrupted by school closures over coronavirus, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said.
UNESCO said the children impacted normally attend “pre-primary to upper-secondary classes,” calling the number “without precedent.” The 290.5 million number only includes the countries with nationwide shutdowns. An additional nine countries have implemented localized school closings.
“While temporary school closures as a result of health and other crises are not new unfortunately, the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said.
According to the agency, school closures are problematic for the students’ learning achievement and also for parents struggling to balance work with childcare.
UNESCO will convene an emergency meeting of education ministers on 10 March to “share responses and strategies to maintain the continuity of learning and assure inclusion and equity.”