In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 11 million Covid-19 cases have been reported and the pandemic has created a learning crisis for students. For over seven months, the education of 97 percent (more than 137 million children) has been on hold.
While schools are slowly re-opening in other parts of the world, many classrooms in the region are still closed and a number have not yet even set a re-opening date. Many students have missed out on nearly a full school year.
High levels of inequality
High levels of inequality have always been evident in the Caribbean region but the current Covid-19 crisis has widened the gap, particularly in terms of education.
The lack of access to computers, the internet, parental support and even a desk to study from makes continuing to learn from home almost impossible for the most vulnerable, poorest children. Children in private schools, on the other hand, have access to quality distance learning.
Non-educational disadvantages of school closures
Without the safety net that school provides, the health, safety, development and well-being of children are at risk and the most vulnerable bear the heaviest brunt. When children don’t have access to school feeding programs, they miss out on what might be their only nutritious meal of the day.
They lack the structure that comes with going to school and miss socializing with friends. Being out of school also means children are more exposed to dangers in their neighborhoods and homes, such as sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labor and adolescent pregnancy.
Distance and home-based learning
Governments, assisted by UNICEF, have responded to the situation by organizing multi-sectoral responses, including teacher training, prioritizing parts of the curriculum and distance-based learning. This is delivered through the internet as well as through TV and radio so those in remote areas and without internet access can also have access. However, despite all the efforts, half the children in public schools are still not accessing quality distance learning.
In the Peruvian Amazon, UNICEF has even had loudspeakers installed to help with remote learning in indigenous communities. Classes on a USB memory stick and a small electric generator allow students to listen to content in each subject area.
Essay writing and assignments
Students involved in distance-learning often have difficulty when doing assignments. They do not have access to help when they are struggling and they will often say, “I don’t know what to do. I need help to write my assignment “. Using Writix assignment writing service can and all they need to do is contact a tutor with the request “I want you to do my assignment. “ They can then receive the help of professional writers with the necessary experience in assignment writing and with the right subject background. Students from the UK trust Writix to be the best resource for academic writing and that’s because of some genuine reasons.
Cost of school closures
According to UNICEF, school closures could cost the region as much as $1.2 trillion in terms of the lifetime earnings of a generation of children who are missing out on formal learning. The ability of many children to read, write and do basic maths has suffered and they need these skills if they want to thrive in today’s world. Another year of school closure could have severe consequences.
One of the consequences is likely to be a decline in school enrollment, with more girls than boys at risk of dropping out. The economic impact is likely to be felt long into the future, risking the reverse of education gains that have been hard-earned over the past decade.
UNICEF suggests that children at higher risk of dropping out of school, such as girls, children with disabilities and children from indigenous communities, should have access to special educational support. Economic incentives, such as tuition fee support, transportation cost support and school meals, would encourage more parents to make sure their children attended school.
Priorities for school re-opening
While recognizing the work of governments and education authorities, UNICEF gives a strong call to action in the face of the learning crisis. It calls for the installation of water and sanitation facilities, more teacher training and the adoption of more inclusive learning methods.
UNICEF urges preparation for the re-opening of schools in a coordinated and well-integrated way. The safety of all children must be a priority and it urges for public education budgets to be increased, especially to meet the needs of marginalized children at risk of dropping out. It is not too late to build a better, more inclusive and more resilient education system than the one that existed before the Covid-19 crisis.
Vendy Adams works as a research scientist for a wildlife conservation organization and as a part-time academic writer helping students with their biology theses and coursework. She uses her real-world work experience to write in a way that’ll prepare students for their careers. When she’s not working, she walks her dog, enjoys birdwatching or kayaking.