For more than 1.5 billion children across 182 countries, education has stopped partially, or fully, during the pandemic – that’s 91 per cent globally of children enrolled in school. Protection risks for children living in places affected by war and violence increase dramatically when schools close. These include:
- Exposure to violence, abuse, and neglect at home
- Child recruitment by armed groups
- Early marriages
- Teenage pregnancies
- Child labour
- Subsequent non-return to school
Girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school. They face greater barriers to school attendance and are exposed to greater levels of domestic and gender-based violence. They are also more likely never to return to school. School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates this risk.
Over 48 million children rely on school feeding programmes which have all been suspended. In parallel, we are seeing the impact of pandemic prevention measures affect incomes and livelihoods which could compound the impact on families’ ability to provide adequate nutrition for their children.
Government awareness of these needs and their monitoring is critical to the protection, safety and physical integrity of children. The ICRC invites governments and the private sector to work together to provide alternative ways for children’s uninterrupted access to child-friendly accredited distance learning methods, ensuring the most vulnerable children are not excluded.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a global health and socioeconomic crisis; it is also a massive education crisis with potentially extremely severe ramifications, especially for vulnerable children and youth impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, and protracted crises.
The ICRC has joined a network of concerned organisations to raise concern. Read the Statement by the Signatories of the Pledge at the Global Refugee Forum to Make Geneva a Global Hub for Education in Emergencies
How are we helping?
The ICRC has adapted its response to support remote learning for students in a number of ways including:
- Providing paper and printers in Ukraine to facilitate lesson production
- Purchase and distribution of tablets in Armenia and Azerbaijan to support marginal communities
- Payment of broadband and negotiation of extension of services for communities and payment of online courses which are fee paying
- Support with material and logistics for preparing homework on hard copies in South Sudan
Among other activities, we are also providing psychological support to teachers in many communities and have printed and developed material for children including books and games explaining COVID-19.
Source : Icrc