Prolonged school closures due to Covid pose threat to gender equality: UNESCO


A new UNESCO study notes that educational disruptions due to prolonged school closures around the world will not only have alarming implications for the loss of knowledge, but also threaten gender equality.

The global study, When Schools Close: The Gender Impact of School Closures Due to COVID-19, highlights that school closures have affected girls and boys, young women and men differently, depending on the context.

“At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion students in 190 countries were affected by school closures. They have lost not only access to education, but the countless benefits of attending school on an unprecedented scale, ”said Stephanie. Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO.

“Education disruptions of this magnitude have alarming implications for knowledge loss and school dropout. In addition, they pose a threat to gender equality, including gender-specific health, well-being and protection implications, ”said Giannini.

Drawing on data from approximately 90 countries and detailed data collected from local communities, the report shows that gender norms and expectations can affect the ability to participate and benefit from distance learning.

“In poorer settings, girls ‘time for schooling was limited to increased household chores. Boys’ participation in learning was limited to income-generating activities. Girls had difficulty using digital distance learning methods in many contexts due to limited Internet access. lack of digital skills and cultural norms limiting their use of technological devices, ”the report says.

The study indicated that digital gender inequality was a concern even before the COVID-19 crisis.

“In-depth research on Bangladesh and Pakistan in a global report highlighted its gender impact on distance learning during school closings. In a Pakistan study, only 44 percent of girls in participating districts reported owning a mobile phone for personal use, compared to 93 percent. boys. Girls who did not have mobile phones reported that they relied on their relatives’ devices, usually those of their fathers, ”the report said.

“While some girls were able to use family members’ phones, they were not always able to. Their access was restricted because some parents were concerned that giving girls access to smartphones could lead to abuse and could lead to romantic relationships.”

“The longer girls did not go to school, the higher the risk of school loss. From April to September 2020, the proportion of girls who reported that they did not study at all increased from 1 to 10 percent, ”they added.

Noting that the pandemic is a timely reminder that schools are not only spaces for learning but also vital spaces for girls and boys – an important space for their health, well-being and protection, the report provides several recommendations on how to tackle gender factors. barriers to participation in distance learning.

“To ensure equitable access to inclusive, gender-sensitive distance learning, it is recommended to provide a range of distance learning options, including low-tech and non-tech solutions, and to support efforts to reach students at greatest risk, design, develop a gender perspective – responsive educational resources and tools beyond provide appropriate support and training for teachers, use formative assessments to track learning outcomes, ”the report said.

This story was published from the news agency tape without text changes. Only the title has changed.


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