By Nsunjo Erica
According to a report study released by the UN on Wednesday, at least one-third of students affected by COVID-19 around the world lack access to virtual education.
A report from UNICEF estimated that over 463 million children lack the equipment or electronic access to pursue distance learning amidst the closure of learning institutions.
The UN report is based on data gathered from roughly 100 countries, measuring a lack of public access to the internet, television, and to radio in these countries.
The UN also estimated that 1.5 billion children worldwide have been affected by lockdowns or school closings following the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund, said in a statement.
Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund added that the repercussions of continued school closure could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.
According to the report from UNICEF, there is a gaping geographical difference in children’s access to distance education, with far fewer affected in Europe, for example, than in Africa or parts of Asia.
The UN estimated that about 67 million children in eastern and southern Africa are unable to access virtual education, 54 million in western and central Africa, 80 million in the Pacific, and East Asia.
The report further estimated over 37 million in the Middle East and North Africa, 147 million in South Asia, and 13 million in Latin America and the Caribbean among students around the world unable to access virtual education
The UNICEF urged governments to prioritize the safe reopening of schools when they begin easing lockdown restrictions because the repercussions of continued closure may affect governments even more.
‘Where reopening is impossible, governments should arrange for “compensatory learning for lost instructional time,” the UN report read.