Dear Mankind and most favoured of my children
You will recall my earliest blogs ( mother Earth blogs ) welcomed the Global initiative to develop the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs) to help create a safer and fairer world and I was happy that mankind had at last understood the need to live more sustainably and harmoniously with other living things on this, our only, home . Some good progress was starting to be being made in some areas but sadly most of this encouraging activity was brought to an abrupt halt by the COVID 19 Pandemic
This blog on SDG 4 – Education is the 5th of a series of updates to review the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the aspirations and targets of each of the original 17 SDGS and to look ahead to the prospects in each sector
The Pandemic has had an unprecedented economic and human toll on Human societies around the world. Millions have died, tens of millions will have recurring health problems , health and education has been severely disrupted and $billions have been lost or diverted from development work . Sadly, many of the promising development gains of recent decades have been stalled or even reversed and Covid has had a particulary devastating effect on children’s learning and well- being. Globally 2 out of every 3 students worldwide have been affected by school closures during the pandemic .
100 million more children now do not have basic reading skills and globally this means that 584 million children now fall below minimum reading levels. Sadly , it is the poorest , most vulnerable children who the bear the brunt of the impact and further increases in inequality. While children in High income countries ( HICs ) get access to and opportunities for remote learning when schools close , this is just not available in the least developed countries ( LDCs) where 2/3rds of the schools do not even have electricity, only ½ have single sex toilets ( important to encourage girls to attend ) and very few have access to drinking water or handwashing facilities . The total absence of computers and remote learning in LDCs means that such children have no chance of making up for the 2 years of lost schooling and this may severely affect the future life chances.
Furthermore , In the developing world many families struggle financially to send their children to school and loss of income and school closures due to Covid 19 makes it even more likely that their children will not be able to return to schools when the schools do re open . This is especially so for girl pupils, many of whom will be forced into child marriage or child labour
If we are to recover the gains that have been lost due to Covid 19, it is necessary re double efforts and to “build back better” . In LDCs there is a need to not only provide education but also to improve the schools’ infrastructure ( electricity , water , toilets , internet etc ) so that children have a better environment to participate in education .
Sources : The Sustainable Development Goals Reports 2019 -2021 , United nations , New York