Education in quarter of countries at risk of collapse, study warns

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The education of hundreds of millions of children is hanging by a thread as a result of an unprecedented intensity of threats including Covid 19 and the climate crisis, a report warned today.

As classrooms across much of the world prepare to reopen after the summer holidays, a quarter of countries – most of them in sub-Saharan Africa – have school systems that are at extreme or high risk of collapse, according to Save the Children.

The UN estimates that, for the first time in history, about 1.5 billion children were out of school during the pandemic, with at least a third unable to access remote learning.

Now, as much of the developing world faces a combination of interrelated crises including extreme poverty, Covid-19, climate breakdown and intercommunal violence, there are growing fears for a “lost generation of learners”.

In an analysis ranking countries according to their vulnerability, Save the Children found eight countries to have school systems at “extreme risk”, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Somalia deemed most vulnerable, with Afghanistan following closely behind.

The analysis calculated how vulnerable school systems were as a result of a range of factors including coronavirus vaccination coverage, the climate crisis, physical attacks, and the proportion of school-age children with a home internet connection.

It found that a further 40 countries, including Yemen, Burkina Faso, India, the Philippines and Bangladesh, were all at “high risk”.

Photo: A teacher wearing a protective face mask checks homework during a lesson in Prague, Czech Republic. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

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