The first day of school, a watershed event for the world’s youngest students and their parents, has been postponed for an estimated 140 million young brains owing to COVID-19, according to the UN Children’s Agency.
Because they reside in areas where schools have been closed during the epidemic, an estimated eight million of these students have been waiting over a year for their first day of in-person study.
Globally, schools were totally closed for an average of 79 teaching days in 2020. However, when the epidemic began, schools were closed for over a year for 168 million kids. Even now, many children are facing an unprecedented second year of disruption in their education, with the first year of school, which lays the foundation for all future learning with introductions to reading, writing, and math, being extended.
The youngsters are missing out on in-person learning, which helps them build independence, adjust to new routines, and form important relationships with instructors and classmates. It also allows instructors to spot and treat learning disabilities, mental health concerns, and child abuse that might have a detrimental impact on a kid’s well-being. “A child’s first day of school is a watershed event in their lives, launching them on a life-changing journey of personal development and growth. The majority of us can recall several little things, such as what we wore, our teacher’s name, and who we sat next to. “However, for millions of children, that crucial day has been postponed indefinitely,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
“Millions of first graders around the world have been waiting over a year to see the inside of a classroom as schools resume in many parts of the world. This school year, millions more may not see one at all. “The chances of never walking into a classroom in their lifetime are rising for the most vulnerable,” she continued.
Many children, especially the youngest learners in crucial development stages, would be affected by school closures, which include learning loss, emotional anguish, missed vaccines, and a higher risk of dropout, child labor, and child marriage, according to UNICEF.
While some nations are taking steps to provide remote learning, data reveals that at least 29% of primary children are not being reached. In addition to a lack of resources for remote learning, the youngest children may be unable to participate owing to a lack of technological assistance, a bad learning environment, family duties, or being compelled to work.
Positive school experiences during this transition time have been proven to influence children’s future social, emotional, and educational outcomes in studies. At the same hand, children who fall behind in school during their early years are more likely to remain behind for the remainder of their schooling, and the gap grows with time.
The amount of years a youngster spends in school has a direct impact on their future wages. The World Bank forecasts that this generation of students would lose $10 trillion in wages unless mitigating measures are taken.
Evidence suggests that correcting learning gaps early on is less expensive and more successful, and that investing in education promotes economic recovery, development, and prosperity. UNICEF advises governments to reopen schools as soon as feasible for in-person learning and to equip kids with a thorough rehabilitation plan.
The UN organization will continue to engage its partners and the public in the coming weeks in order to avoid this education crisis from becoming a tragedy. World leaders, teachers, and parents will be rallied around a common cause to reopen schools for in-person learning as soon as feasible through online and offline campaigns.