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South Asian children may drop out of school: UN

South Asian children may drop out of school: UN

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Apr 07, 2020 - 14:30

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): With schools in the South Asian region closed amid COVID-19 concerns, Afghanistaninfo-icon has started organising the home delivery of learning materials to reach the most excluded students.

Afghanistan had started delivering the content of textbooks through radio and TV in Herat province and plans were underway for a model to be taken nationwide, UNICEF said on Tuesday.

“As the current coronavirus crisis unfolds, many of the 430 million children affected by school closures in South Asia are now in danger of dropping out of the educationinfo-icon system,” the UN agency said in a statement.

It warned: “Vulnerable and hard-to-reach children may never return to school if they get further behind due to not being reached with alternative ways to learn during school closures.”

Although COVID-19’s impact on school children had been mitigated in the short term by creative approaches to term breaks and examinations, countries across South Asia urgently needed to develop plans for continued education at home to be prepared for possible longer closures, the statement stressed.

Jim Ackers, an advisor at UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia, said: “We are concerned that prolonged school closures could hit girls and the most vulnerable, including those with disabilities the hardest.

“Girls are often obliged to take care of household chores and look after siblings. We are also concerned about the psychological impact on children of increasing incidents of domestic violence during lockdowns,” the official added.

Only 33% of the people in the region had access to the internet, UNICEF said, referring to inadequate access to radio and television in some parts of the region. Only 35% of rural Nepal has access to television.

UNICEF said it was trying to support governments in the region to ensure children could continue with their education at home in partnership with other agencies. Most countries in South Asia have received externalinfo-icon funding for the purpose, including through the Global Partnership for Education and bilateral partners.

“The coronavirus has turned into a complex emergency that threatens children and young people in many ways – including their right to learn,” said Jean Gough, regional director of UNICEF in South Asia. “We need to see urgent action to ensure that children’s futures are not compromised.”

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