Pakistan News

40pc poor countries fail to back needy schoolchildren, says Unesco

40pc poor countries fail to back needy schoolchildren, says Unesco

ISLAMABAD: A new report of Unesco has estimated that about 40 per cent of low and lower-middle income countries have not supported disadvantaged learners during temporary school shutdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and among the poorest 20 per cent of households in Pakistan, only 14 per cent own a television making distance learning hard.

The ‘Global Education Monitoring Report 2020’ published by Unesco on Tuesday, says low- and middle-income countries are at a far more disadvantaged starting point for an effective transition to online learning platforms.

The share of households with internet access at home was 47 per cent in developing countries, and 12 per cent in the least developed countries in 2019, compared with 87 per cent in developed countries. Internet bandwidth per internet user was 91 kbit/s in developing countries and 21kbit/s in developed countries.

The report says that learners with disabilities are at higher risk of exclusion in such circumstances. Many resources are not accessible for blind or deaf students even if the technology exists. Children with mild learning difficulties, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, may struggle with independent work in front of a computer.

By increasing isolation, the pandemic also increased the risk of marginalised students disengaging further from education and leaving school early. Overall, about 40 per cent of low- and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as those living in remote areas, the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities, report says.

Assessing the effect of school closures on Covid-19 infection rates has been filled with uncertainty, as conclusive evidence is yet to emerge, making the issue at times quite divisive. Some teachers who belong to vulnerable groups are concerned that their health is at risk.

Only a minority of countries can enforce strict social distancing rules in schools. As of the end of May 2020, national school closures were in effect in 150 countries, affecting 68 per cent of the global student population.

Alongside the global education monitoring report, Unesco launched a new website, with information on laws and policies concerning inclusion in education for every country in the world.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2020

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