An “education crisis” has plagued students the world over during the first half of 2020, and it continues in many parts of the world, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Koumba Boly Barry.
Boly Barry was presenting her report on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the right to education, to the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to the latest figures from UNESCO, there are still more than one billion learners affected by school and university closures.
While the first phase has now passed and many schools and educational institutions have reopened, Boly Barry said it was essential to conduct a thorough analysis of how this period severely impacted the right to education. Using a human rights lens was essential, she added, particularly so the rights of the most vulnerable are protected.
For Boly Barry, the long-term impact of the pandemic on education worldwide will depend on the measures countries adopt now. “The main question is whether we will be able to generate positive change, not reverse the progress made in recent decades,” she stated.
She also added that it was critical not to lose sight of the broader context, and reminded that 258 million children and young people were already out of school before the pandemic. “Public education systems remain underfunded and under pressure, inequalities in education are intolerable, and access to education remains a dream for many,” she said.
The report recommends that States must carry out a multidimensional response to the crisis. The interrelation and interdependence of human rights is clear, the report states, including for example the right to adequate nutritious food (when food is distributed by schools) and the right to adequate housing (essential for home schooling).
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