Over 61 crore students affected by school closures: Unicef

New York: Over 616 million, or 61.60 crore, students have been adversely affected by full or partial closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations Children’s Fund said.

Sharing data on the impact of school closures on children, Unicef pointed out that several million have missed out on academic learning with younger students and those marginalized suffering the “greatest loss”.

The global children welfare organization said that 70% of those aged 10 in low-and-middle-income countries cannot read or understand simple texts due to the closing down of schools. It said that the figure was 53% before the pandemic broke out.

Unicef said that primary school children in Ethiopia were estimated to have learned only between 30% and 40% of the math they would have otherwise accomplished if it had been a normal school year.

The UN body also pointed out that learning losses have been observed in several US states, including Maryland, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, California, Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee.

“In Texas, for example, two-thirds of children in grade 3 tested below their grade level in math in 2021, compared to half of the children in 2019,” it said.

The children’s welfare body said that besides learning loss, closing down of schools has impacted children’s mental health, their access to nutritional food, and also increased the risk of abuse.

“A growing body of evidence shows that Covid-19 has caused high rates of anxiety and depression among children and young people, with some studies finding that girls, adolescents, and those living in rural areas are most likely to experience these problems,” it said.

Image courtesy of (Photo courtesy: worldbank.org)

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