“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever,” said António Guterres on Tuesday. Guterres is secretary-general of the United Nations (U.N.). In a video message to the world, he spoke of schools closed in more than 160 countries in July. This is “affecting over 1 billion students,” he said.
The loss of education could lead to increased inequality around the world, he added.
Guterres didn’t make this video address just to share statistics. He announced a new campaign. It’s called Save Our Future. It will be run by U.N. agencies. Educational partners will help too.
Guterres also issued a policy brief, or plan. It proposes how education should continue, both during and after the pandemic. “We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people,” he said. “The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people . . . for decades to come.”
The policy brief focuses on four key areas of education. First is reopening schools. Once COVID-19 is under control in an area, getting kids back to school “as safely as possible must be a top priority,” Guterres wrote on the U.N. website.
Second, world leaders must invest more money in education. “Education budgets need to be protected and increased,” Guterres says.
Third, it’s important to protect the most vulnerable students. These include students in poorer countries. They may have had trouble accessing education even before the pandemic. We “must seek to reach those at greatest risk of being left behind,” Guterres says.
Finally, the policy brief calls for the world to reimagine education. This includes investing in digital technology and finding new ways to support teachers.
Guterres writes, “We must take bold steps now, to create . . . education systems fit for the future.”