The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has urged the countries in Latin America to bring their children back to schools as quickly as they can, warning that the travel restriction imposed in response to COVID-19 pandemic may force many students to drop out of schools permanently.
Around 95% of Latin American children are currently out of school, says the international organization.
The Unicef has told the regional countries to give children access to distance learning channels so they can continue their studies even in the middle of a crisis.
” Never have so many schools been closed at the same time. The expansion of the coronavirus will leave most boys and girls out of school in the coming weeks,” says Bernt Aasen, Unicef’s regional director.
“If school closure is further extended, there is a great risk that children fall behind in their learning, and we fear that the most vulnerable students will never return to school.”
The closure of schools also implies the interruption of access to other critical essential services, such as school meals, recreational programs, extracurricular activities, and pedagogical support.
Some countries have long made available distance learning tools, including courses through digital platforms. However, these modalities are not guaranteed throughout the region, nor do all families have access to them, especially the most vulnerable, says Unicef.
It is a priority to provide accessible content on radio and television to low-income children, those at risk of exclusion, without internet access, with disabilities, as well as migrants and indigenous communities.
The UN agency is gearing up to launch a campaign this week aiming to provide families and educators in the region with free educational and entertainment tools, as well as tips and examples of good health and hygiene practices.