The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history, with schools closed in more than 160 countries in the middle of last month, affecting more than 1 billion students, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said yesterday.
In addition, at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education “in their critical preschool year,” he said.
As a result, the world faces “a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities,” he said.
Even before the pandemic, the world faced “a learning crisis,” with more than 250 million children out of school, and only a quarter of secondary school youngsters in developing countries leaving school “with basic skills,” he said.
According to a global projection covering 180 countries by the UN education agency UNESCO and partner organizations, about 23.8 million additional children and youths from pre-primary school to university level are at risk of dropping out or not having access to school next year due to the pandemic’s economic impact.
“We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people,” Guterres said in a video message and a 26-page policy briefing. “The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people, and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come.”
“The unparalleled education disruption” from the pandemic is far from over and as many as 100 countries have not yet announced a date for schools to reopen,” the policy briefing said.
Guterres called for action in four key areas, the first being reopening schools.
“Once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority,” he said.
UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini told reporters the Paris-based agency plans to hold a high-level virtual meeting in the fall, likely during the second half of October, to secure commitments from world leaders and the international community to place education at the forefront of recovery agendas from the pandemic.
“There may be economic trade-offs, but the longer schools remain closed the more devastating the impact, especially on the poorest and most vulnerable children,” Giannini said.
Schools are not only for learning, but provide social protection and nutrition, especially for vulnerable youngsters, she said.
The COVID-19 crisis has amplified digital, social and gender inequalities, with girls, refugees, the disabled, displaced and youngsters in rural areas the most vulnerable and facing limited opportunities to continue their learning, she said.
Guterres said increasing financing for education must be given priority.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient