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Issue Brief: COVID-19 and Girls’ Education in East Asia and Pacific - October 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the unprecedented disruption of education globally threatening to reverse gains made in access to education and learning across countries. In the East Asia and Pacific region, the pandemic brought education provision in all of the 27 countries supported by UNICEF programmes to a standstill disrupting the lives and affecting the learning of over 325 million children at its peak in April 2020.

This unprecedented disruption to education systems has had particularly devastating impact on the situation of girls’ education, with many having limited access to distance learning during school closures, and with many at risk of not returning to classrooms once schools reopen. The pandemic also caused increases in gender-based violence, early marriage and teenage pregnancy, which in turn negatively affected girls’ ability to access education and learn. This Brief summarizes the impact of COVID-19 on the education of girls in countries across the East Asia and Pacific region and proposes considerations for national stakeholders and policy makers in their school reopening efforts and beyond. The Brief also highlights and provides specific examples of UNICEF’s programmatic interventions to ensure that girls are not left behind in the efforts to reimagine more inclusive and equitable quality education systems after COVID-19.