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What needs to happen to avoid failing a generation of children

UNICEF-every child has the right to go to school and learn. Pic: Google Image Search

UNICEF-every child has the right to go to school and learn. Pic: Google Image Search

Published Apr 7, 2022


Basic reading and maths skills are the foundation for all learning. According to Unicef, even before the pandemic, more than half of all 10-year-olds in middle and low-income countries couldn’t read or understand a simple story.

Did you know that education is a human right? Section 29 of the South African Constitution enshrines the right to education and defines the positive responsibilities of the state in this respect. The section states, “Everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education.”

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Every child has a right to education because it promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. Education is a powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalised adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens.

But too many children around the world still don’t go to school. And an even larger number of children, who are in schools, aren’t getting the quality education they deserve.

The pandemic has exacerbated this learning crisis, and children in almost every country have fallen behind in their learning. Without urgent action, millions of students will have fallen so far behind in their learning that they will be left behind.

It is not enough simply to reopen schools. We need a global effort to tackle the learning crisis head-on. Unicef’s goal? A world where every child has equal access to quality education.

UNICEF is calling on governments to:

  • Reach and retain every child in school;
  • Assess learning levels;
  • Prioritize teaching the fundamentals;
  • Increase catch-up learning and progress beyond what was lost; and
  • Develop psychosocial health and well-being so every child is ready to learn.

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