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Save The Children Warns Almost 10 Million Children May Not Return To School After Covid-19 Lockdown

A new report Save Our Education from Save the Children warns of ‘unprecedented global education emergency’.

Deep budget cuts to education and rising poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could force at least 9.7 million children out of school forever by the end of this year, with millions more falling behind in learning, Save the Children warns in a new report launched today.

As the impacts of the recession triggered by Covid-19 hits families, many children may be forced out of school and into labour markets, and many girls are at risk of being forced into early marriage.

In its report, Save the Children is calling for governments and donors to respond to this global education emergency by urgently investing in education as schools begin to reopen after months of lockdown.

The Save Our Education report reveals the devastating effects the COVID-19 outbreak is set to have on learning. In a mid-range budget scenario, the agency estimates that the recession will leave a shortfall of $77 billion in education spending in some of the poorest countries in the world over the next 18 months. In a worst-case scenario, under which governments shift resources from education to other COVID-19 response areas, that figure could climb to an astonishing $192 billion by the end of 2021.

The impending budget crunch comes after lockdown measures saw a peak of 1.6 billion children out of school, globally.

Ms Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, said: "Around 10 million children may never return to school - this is an unprecedented education emergency and governments must urgently invest in learning. Instead we are at risk of unparalleled budget cuts which will see existing inequality explode between the rich and the poor, and between boys and girls. We know the poorest, most marginalised children who were already the furthest behind have suffered the greatest loss, with no access to distance learning - or any kind of education - for half an academic year."

Save the Children New Zealand echoes Ms Ashing’s concerns particularly in countries like Bangladesh where education is a lifesaver for children living in poverty. Save the Children New Zealand funds a school in Daulatdia - Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest brothels. Mandy Carian, Philanthropy Manager for Save the Children New Zealand, visited the school in 2018.

Mandy says, "I’ve seen first-hand what a difference it makes to these children to not only receive a top quality education, but also other support in terms of health care, nutritious school lunches and a safe and loving environment. For decades, these children were unable to attend school which meant it was inevitable that girls would end up as sex workers and boys would often get caught up in a life of drugs and crime. Receiving a decent education gives these children the best opportunity for a better life."

However the school, fully funded by generous donations of Kiwis, remains closed along with the brothel as it has been incomplete lockdown since March 20th earlier this year with no one allowed in or out. Save the Children New Zealand has stepped in to provide mothers in the brothel with the means to buy food for their children during the lockdown, but the question remains as to how many of those children will be able to go back to school once the lockdown is lifted.

These children are amongst the 1 billion children currently out of school due the pandemic. Before the outbreak, 258 million children and adolescents [i] were already out of school.

In many countries, Save the Children has provided distance learning materials such as books and home learning kits to support learners during lockdown, working closely with governments and teachers to provide lessons and support through radio, television, phone, social media and messaging apps. Despite the efforts of governments and organisations, some 500 million children [ii] had no access to distance learning.

To ensure children can continue their education, Save the Children is calling for an increased funding of education, with $35 billion to be made available by the World Bank. National governments must make education a priority by producing and implementing COVID-19 education responses and recovery plans to ensure the most marginalised children are able to continue their learning.

Save the Children New Zealand is raising funds to support children and families in countries that most need our help, to donate go to https://www.savethechildren.org.nz/

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