COVID-19 derails learning: 70 million children at risk of reading crisis

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According to an analysis by the ONE Campaign, more than 50% of the world’s 10-year-olds could be unable to understand or even read a sentence by the end of this year.

The anti-poverty organization said, on Monday, that nearly 70 million children could be affected in 2021, as per calculations by the World Bank, UN population data, and UNESCO. As per the report, the pandemic has contributed a whopping 17 percent to the number of children falling prey to a global learning crisis that can hamper the learning potential of a generation.

Since schools around the world have remained closed for long periods during the past year as governments all across imposed restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. UNESCO says that the education of nearly 1.7 billion children in 188 countries was heavily disturbed last year.

The closures have forced classes to take the online route, but the mode of remote learning has been bumpy across the globe, with issues like limited access to technology and uneven infrastructure hampering some students’ ability to take part in it. The UN estimates that almost 500 million children, especially the ones in poor countries and rural areas, have not been able to benefit from remote education.

According to the analysis of the ONE Campaign, the learning crisis will hit Africa and Asia worse, with sub-Saharan Africa will see nearly 40 percent of children at risk. By 2030, the number of children having a lack of basic literacy by the time they reach the age of 10 could rise to 750 million, the group warned.

David McNair, executive director for Global policy the Campaign, said that a child’s ability to comprehensively understand a sentence by the time he reaches the age of 10 is a very important milestone. The organization has asked governments across the world to commit at least $5bn to aid the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), saying that it will empower 175 million boys and girls to learn between the period 2021-2025.

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