Coronavirus keeps over 290 million children worldwide from school
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Coronavirus keeps over 290 million children worldwide from school

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Across the world, more than 290 million children are not receiving the education they should, because schools are closed due to the new coronavirus (Covid-19), according to UNESCO figures.

In 13 countries, including China, Japan and Italy, the government has decided to close all schools for the time being in light of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday morning, the Italian press agency announced that the government had decided to close all schools in the country, but Education Minister Lucia Azzolina later denied that the decision was yet to be made. On Wednesday evening, an official statement was issued saying that all schools and universities in the country would be closed from 5 until at least 15 March.

In recent weeks, China, where the new coronavirus first appeared and hit the population hardest, was the only country keeping schools closed. However, as the further spread of the virus sees cases turning up all over the world, other countries have followed suit.

As of 4 March, 22 countries in three continents announced that they are temporarily closing some or all schools in the country to prevent or contain the coronavirus, according to figures by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

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“While temporary school closures as a result of health and other crises are not new unfortunately, the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay in a press statement.

290.5 million children and young people worldwide, from kindergarten to upper secondary school age, are unable to attend classes.

In 9 countries, such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, schools are only closed in certain regions, but if the government decides to close all schools, another 180 million children would be added to the 290.5 million already affected.

UNESCO advises the countries to continue offering children some form of education, such as implementing large-scale distance learning programmes, and introducing open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach students remotely.

In Belgium, at least one student has been confirmed infected with the coronavirus, but schools will remain open for the time being.


Credit: UNESCO

Country-wide school closures

China (including Hong Kong and Macao)
North Korea
United Arab Emirates

Localised school closures

South Korea
United Kingdom
United States of America

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times