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The pandemic will leave a generational catastrophe in education, warns Educo

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15 March 2022: After two years of the pandemic, the NGO Educo warns of the serious harm to children's education in the wake of COVID-19. According to the NGO, millions of children and adolescents have been unable to continue their education properly and some have not even returned to school. “In countries like Bangladesh, Bolivia, the Philippines, Guatemala, India or El Salvador, schools have been closed for more than a year and a half. Not being able to attend school and not having the opportunity to study remotely due to a lack of resources means an increase in existing educational inequalities. If there is no Internet at home, or if children do not know how to use digital tools or have to share them, if their families cannot help them with their studies, if there are no financial resources and sometimes they are forced to work, then they are being left behind”, explains Educo Executive Director, Pilar Orenes.

The organisation, which has education projects in 14 countries, has been working intensively for two years to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on children's education. “Despite all the difficulties, we are working so that children and adolescents can access a quality education and make up for the time they have not been able to study and learn”, assures Orenes. In this regard, the NGO is developing schooling and anti-dropout programmes in countries such as the Philippines and El Salvador, educational support for displaced children in Niger, educational programmes using radio in Burkina Faso, access to technology in Guatemala and support outside school hours in India, among others.

Similarly, for Educo it is very important that children and adolescents can freely express their opinions about how they are experiencing the pandemic period, especially at an educational level. For this reason, the NGO has been carrying out global surveys for the past two years, in which children share their impressions and reflections. With phrases such as "I miss the feeling of waking up early to go to school", "our school did not have online classes", "(studying online) is too expensive for my parents", "I had no one to help me" or "if I go to school, the teacher helps me (...), this possibility is not available at home", children and adolescents have conveyed the difficulties they have encountered and their longing to continue studying.

Faced with this situation, Educo urges governments to take immediate and specific measures in order to alleviate the educational losses for children. The NGO asks for higher investment in education with a focus on the most vulnerable groups, more access to technology and advice on how to use it responsibly, training for teachers, reduced ratios, support for students' emotional health and lunchroom grants to guarantee food and prevent absenteeism, among other things. “At Educo we strongly believe that education is the most powerful tool for building a fairer and more equal society. It is key for complying with the 2030 Agenda. If this is not remedied urgently, the pandemic will leave behind a generational catastrophe in education”, concludes Educo Executive Director.