Only one in three pupils in the world will find their way back to school at the end of this summer, according to UNESCO.
The remaining two thirds of the pupils will remain "face either school closures or uncertainty" caused by the new coronavirus, the organisation said on its website.
Out of a total of 1.5 billion children enrolled from pre-primary to secondary school in the world, 900 million usually go back to school between August and October, the others being in another school calendar (January-November, March-December etc.).
Some 128 million have already started in a new class and 433 million in 155 countries are expected to do so in the coming weeks, making a total of 561 million pupils, UNESCO said.
- 'Challenge' for Belgium as it reopens school amid pandemic
- Coronavirus keeps over 290 million children worldwide from school
But 1 billion pupils - two-thirds of the world's school population - remain "without school or in a situation of uncertainty" on the first day of the new school year in several European countries, and "more than half of the 900 million pupils who start the new school year are expected to take part or complete distance education.”
UNESCO is alarmed by the prospect of closed schools, distance learning, uncertainty and the risk of dropping out of school. The situation is likely to have an impact on the most vulnerable populations and on girls in particular.
It urges the education authorities to ensure a rapid return to school, while taking measures for the health and safety of pupils and school staff.
The Brussels Times