UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned that because of the school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic the world is facing a “generational catastrophe” and also said that getting students safely back to the classroom must be “a top priority.”
The U.N. chief said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever.”
More than One billion students were affected and left without classrooms as of mid-July schools were closed in 160 countries across the globe, while at least 40 million children “missed out on education in their critical pre-school year,” he said.
In a video statement, he said, This came on top of more than 250 million children already being out of school before the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school students in developing countries leaving with basic skills.
Facing “Generational Catastrophe”
Guterres during a video briefing of the launch of a U.N. “Save our Future” campaign, aimed at restoring and bolstering formal education in a post-pandemic world made the comments.
He said, “Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities. Once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority.”
He further added, “Consultation with parents, careers, teachers and young people is fundamental.”
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Called for Investments
The U.N. chief also asked for greater investments in education as the low and middle-income countries are facing an annual funding gap of $1.5 trillion before the pandemic, including investments in digital literacy and infrastructure. He stated that Investment should be directed toward those who have a greater risk of being left behind.
The United Nations’ advice for getting global education back on track comes as President Donald Trump has pushed for a rapid reopening of schools despite facing the opposition from parents and teachers while the COVID-19 is surging in many parts of the country.
He told Fox News’ Lou Dobbs, “Frankly, they want to keep it closed, I think, as long as possible. Maybe for some good reasons but maybe also for political reasons. But we want it opened. We want the schools open, Lou. You know, young people have better immune systems than we do, Lou.”
According to worldometer, the virus has infected 4.9 million people and killed 161,607 Americans in the United States so far. While globally the virus has infected 18.9 million people and led to 711,316 deaths.