Education is powerful.
Not just for individual children and their families, but for whole communities, countries and the world. Education can provide stability to children who are displaced, open up paths out of poverty, reduce the likelihood of conflict, contribute to a healthy planet and is vital for long-term growth. Education is critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. By calling on world leaders to make education a priority we aim to unleash the power of education and ensure that no child is left behind.
The international community has committed to ensuring inclusive and quality education for all by 2030. However, up until 2020, 262 million children were out of school, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this rose to around 1.5 billion learners out of school in March, with nearly 1.1 billion learners in 146 countries still affected in September 2020. As many countries have begun phased processes of reopening schools, it is time to pause and reflect on what happened.
Even when in school, many children are not actually learning. The situation is heightened for those groups that face increased and intersecting barriers such as marginalised groups, children with disabilities, girls and those living in conflict situations. And the COVID-19 crisis disproportionately affected the most vulnerable populations, the poorest, refugees and migrant children and youth. It also exacerbated gender inequalities, with increased incidents of child abuse, gender-based violence, forced child marriages, teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation.
Girls and boys with disabilities, who often live in some of the poorest families and face discrimination in their communities, are generally not prioritised in terms of education. During the crisis, they face an even higher risk of exclusion. As children with disabilities are also more likely to drop out of school than their peers, there is an added risk that those who leave school now may never return.
RESULTS UK is part of the Send My Friend To School campaign, the UK coalition of the Global Campaign for Education. The Send My Friend campaign teaches young people the power and importance of using their voices in chorus with others across the globe to create positive change, and has made recommendations for learning through and from the Government's response to education during the pandemic.