77 million students across some six countries around the world remain out of school as the facilities continue to be almost completely closed, eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to data analysis released by the body, around 27 percent of countries worldwide continue to have schools fully or partially closed. Bangladesh, the Philippines and Panama are among the countries that kept schools closed the longest.
It notes that an estimated 131 million students in 11 countries have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning.
“As classes resume in many countries around the world, millions of students are heading into a third academic year without stepping foot in a classroom,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The losses that students are incurring from not being in school may never be recovered.”
UNICEF noted that not only have the children missed out on education, but they have also missed out on other critical provisions that were availed in school, like meals and routine vaccinations.
Some of them have also been exposed to increased anxiety abuse and violence. Others have also dropped out of school and fallen into child marriages and child labour rings.
The U.N. Children’s Fund acknowledged the lifeline offered by remote learning, but noted that access to technology and the quality of the curriculum have been uneven.
So far, the number of COVID-19 infections globally has surpassed the 226.48 million mark, with fatalities exceeding 4.66 million.
Governments have put focus on vaccinations in order to contain further spread of the virus as they aim to fully reopen their economies.
Over 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally.