Due to Covid-19 lockdowns, schools for over 168 million children have been closed for nearly a year, UNICEF has said.
Schools in 14 countries worldwide have remained largely closed since March 2020 until February 2021, according to UNICEF’s report on school closures.
Of those, two-thirds are in Latin America and the Caribbean where nearly 98 million schoolchildren have been affected, dpa reports.
“As we approach the one-year mark of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are again reminded of the catastrophic education emergency worldwide lockdowns have created,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.
“With every day that goes by, children unable to access in-person schooling fall further and further behind, with the most marginalized paying the heaviest price,” said Henrietta Fore UNICEF Executive Director.
The agency warned that ongoing school closures have “devastating consequences,” with the most vulnerable children at risk of instead being forced into child marriage or child labor.
It added that more than 888 million children worldwide continue to face disruptions to their education due to full and partial school closures, citing UNESCO data.
As a way to call attention to the “education emergency” on Tuesday UNICEF unveiled a model “Pandemic Classroom” at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
It is made up of 168 empty desks, each desk representing the million children living in countries where schools have been almost entirely closed, UNICEF said.