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‘How COVID-19 widens wealth, gender inequalities’

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A new global survey on the impact of COVID-19 has revealed that the pandemic has widened inequalities along wealth and gender lines in the past six months.

The report released yesterday by Save the Children, an international child rights group, also indicated that the pandemic dealt devastating blow on the education of children from poorer backgrounds.

According to the group, children from poorest households across the globe have suffered greatest loss of family income, missed out most on education and faced the highest risk of violence at home.

According to the report, in the six months since the pandemic was announced, the most vulnerable children have disproportionately missed out on access to education, healthcare and food, and suffered the greatest protection risks.

The survey further revealed that two- thirds of the children had no contact with teachers at all, during lockdown; eight in ten children believed they had learned little or nothing since schools closed. It stated that 93per cent of households that lost over half of their income due to the pandemic reported difficulties in accessing health services.

According to the group, violence at home doubled when schools were closed.

The report called for urgent investment in education, health and nutrition, child protection services, mental health services and safety nets.

Speaking on the report, Country Director, Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria, Mercy Gichuhi, said: “As the Nigerian government plans to re-open schools after prolonged closures, it is necessary to think about how to build a resilient education system to withstand future shocks, and also to ensure that an emergency education plan is mainstreamed into the contingency plan of the entire country.

“To prevent shocks from future pandemics, governments need to build social safety nets and strong health and nutrition systems, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalised households.”

The group urged governments to make sure children out of school have access to quality distance learning materials, that catch up classes are offered to children who have fallen behind, and that all children have equal access to learning after schools reopen.

Save the Children estimates that this pandemic has caused the largest education emergency in history, with some 9.7 million children not returning to school this year.

The SCI Nigeria Girl Champion, Purity Oriaifo, said: “Due to school closures, so many children can no longer retain what they’ve learnt in their previous classes.

“Even when the schools finally re-open, there will not be sufficient time for revision of what we have learnt and missed in the curriculum. That’s a big challenge for us as children.”

Nigerian Girl Advocate, Aisha Idris Nakano, said school closure had direct impact on the children.

“As plans are ongoing to re-open the schools for us to continue learning, I suggest that the Nigerian government should ensure that preventive measures are put in place for children in schools.

Overcrowded classrooms should be avoided; maybe the schools should be split into morning and afternoon classes,” she suggested.


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