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40% poorest countries fail to support learners during COVID-19 crisis

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About 10 per cent of countries worldwide have laws that help ensure full inclusion in education, UNESCO’s 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report has revealed.

The report tagged, “Inclusion and education – All means all,” provided an in-depth analysis of key factors for exclusion of learners in education systems worldwide.

It estimated that about 40 per cent of low and middle-income countries have not supported disadvantaged learners during this temporary schools’ shutdown.

The 2020 GEM report urged countries to focus on those left behind as schools reopen so as to promote equity. The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay said, “To rise to the challenges of our time, a move towards more inclusive education is imperative”,

“Rethinking the future of education is all the more important following the COVID-19 pandemic, which further widened and put a spotlight on inequalities. Failure to act will hinder the progress of societies.”

The report is to monitor progress across 209 countries in achieving the education targets adopted by UN member-states in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

The report noted that 258 million children and youth were entirely excluded from education, with poverty as the main obstacle to access.It read in part, “In low- and middle-income countries, adolescents from the richest 20 per cent of all households were three times as likely to complete lower secondary school as those from the poorest homes.

“Ten-year old students in middle and high-income countries who were taught in a language other than their mother tongue typically scored 34 per cent below native speakers in reading tests. In ten low- and middle-income countries, children with disabilities were found to be 19 per cent less likely to achieve minimum proficiency in reading than those without disabilities.

The report added that two countries in Africa still ban pregnant girls from school, 117 allowed child marriages, while 20 had yet to ratify the convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which bans child labour. Director of the GEM report, Manos Antoninis noted that COVID-19 has given nations the opportunity to think afresh about their education systems.

“But moving to a world that values and welcomes diversity won’t happen overnight. There is an obvious tension between teaching all children under the same roof and creating an environment where students learn best. But, COVID-19 has shown us that there is scope to do things differently, if we put our minds to it.”


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