Lockdowns worsened pre-existing disparities in education: Unicef

The Chronicle

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Mat South Bureau Chief
OVER 90 percent of school going children in Zimbabwe have been negatively affected by Covid-19-induced school closures, a report has said.

According to Unicef, the crisis is worsening pre-existing disparities by reducing the opportunities for some of the world’s most vulnerable children, including those in rural communities and in conflict areas.

School closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have affected 6,5 million children in Zimbabwe and 1.6 billion children globally.

The latest Annual Education Statistics Report says Zimbabwe’s school going population between the ages of three and 18 was negatively impacted by the lockdown.

“The projected school going population in Zimbabwe is 6 553 690, of which males and females constitute 49.8 percent and 50.2 percent respectively.

“Currently, there are 6 761 schools with ECD, 6 798 primary schools and 2 980 secondary schools.

Urban and rural primary schools constitute 20.58 percent and 79.42 percent respectively.

The majority (78.41 percent) of schools are run by Government, with only 21.59 percent under non-government entities.

Government secondary schools constitute 73.46 percent, in contrast to non-government schools, which make up 26.54 percent,” read a report from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

According to Unicef, children in public schools were most affected by the school closures due to limited resources to undertake uninterrupted remote learning.

Teachers unions in Zimbabwe have said educators were unable to conduct online lessons as they had no resources such as data and required gadgets to teach during lockdowns.

Government this week announced that schools should prepare for opening in three weeks’ time, a move which has been welcomed by teachers unions which have previously expressed concern over the welfare of students.

Statistics show that before the Covid-19 pandemic, 250 million children were out of school globally and Unicef projects that more children will fail to return to school as schools reopen worldwide.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and in all continents.

Closures of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94 percent of the world’s student population, up to 99 percent in low and middle income countries,” read a Unicef policy brief on education during Covid-19 and beyond.

The Unicef policy brief says the crisis is exacerbating existing education disparities by reducing the opportunities for many of the most vulnerable children, youth and adults, those living in poor or rural areas, girls, refugees, persons with disabilities and forcibly displaced persons. – @Yolisswa

Article Source: The Chronicle

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