To combat the unprecedented loss of education and decline in students’ well-being, the UN agencies have mandated guidelines for schools closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidelines framed by World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Food Programme will serve to the best of students’ interests keeping in consideration public health and benefits. Once implemented, the risks to education, and disruption in socio-economic scenario can be assessed eventually.
The guidelines highlights the ambiguities about school lockdowns in reducing spread of infections. As per UNESCO, about 154 crore students are heavily impacted by the schools closure.
“Widespread closures of educational facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic present an unprecedented risk to children’s education and wellbeing, particularly for the most marginalised children who rely on school for their education, health, safety and nutrition,” read the guidelines.
Schools will be duly informed about the decision-making process required to resume classes.
The guidelines further added that “It is designed to be a flexible tool that can be adapted to each context and updated as the situation changes, the guidelines outline six key priorities to assess the readiness of those schools and inform planning.”
Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, had told in an interview how indefinite school closure creates the “potential for increased drop-out rates that will disproportionately affect adolescent girls, further entrench gender gaps in education and lead to increased risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy and early and forced marriage”.
The guidelines will be set within the larger context of public health and education planning processes. In India, he Ministry of Human Resource Development is framing guidelines to set the wheels in motion.