Schools must be reopened at the earliest possible date, as soon as the spread of infection can be controlled. This was declared by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his video message on issues related to education during the pandemic. The UN Secretary-General outlined a four-item plan, where the main goal is to prevent the catastrophic aftermath of the pandemic in the field of education.
The COVID-19 pandemic, according to the UN Secretary General, has caused the largest failure in modern history in the education system around the world. As of mid-July, schools were closed in more than 160 countries, having affected nearly a billion of students. At least 40 million children worldwide had no opportunity to study during the critical preschool year. Parents, especially women, had to shoulder the heavy burden of caring for and homeschooling their children.
To try to rectify this unfortunate situation, the United Nations, jointly with international partners, is launching a four-phase “Save Our Future” campaign.
Firstly, according to the UN Secretary-General, the international community has to achieve the earliest possible opening of schools. At the same time, it is necessary to assess the health risks so that they do not outweigh the advantages of resuming education, Antonio Guterres said.
Secondly, the UN Secretary General suggests that priority should be given to education when distributing financial flows. Before the crisis, low- and middle-income countries already had a $1.5 trillion a year education funding gap. Now this gap has increased significantly. The budgets of educational programmes must be protected from cuts and, if possible, increased, Antonio Guterres is convinced.
Thirdly, according to the UN Secretary-General, educational initiatives should be structured in such a way as to reach those who are at greatest risk of lagging behind: children and adolescents living in emergency and crisis zones, representatives of various kinds of minorities, as well as forced migrants and persons with disabilities.
“Fourthly”, the UN Secretary General said, “we have to understand that the future of education is being created now. The current generation has the opportunity to rethink pedagogical methods and principles. We can take a step towards forward-looking systems that provide quality education for all as a basic ground for achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals”.
“We are living at a turning point for the future of children and youth around the world”, Antonio Guterres said. “The decisions that individual countries and international organizations are making now will have long-lasting effects on the fates of hundreds of millions of young people, and the prospects for development of the world for decades to come”.