Exactly a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic brought learning to a screeching halt worldwide, creating the most severe global education disruption in history. At the peak of the crisis, UNESCO data showed that over 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries were out of school. Over 100 million teachers and school personnel were impacted by the sudden closures of learning institutions. Today, two-thirds of the world’s student population is still affected by full or partial school closures. In 29 countries, schools remain fully closed.
The pandemic has exposed and deepened pre-existing education inequalities that were never adequately addressed. As always, it has impacted vulnerable and marginalized learners the hardest. The economic downturn of the crisis is now adding pressure on national education budgets and aid at a time when increased funding is needed for education recovery. Despite critical additional funding needs, two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries have cut their public education budgets since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent joint report by the World Bank and UNESCO.
The Flexible Learning Strategies for Out of School Children programme is a UNESCO initiative with the aim of supporting inclusive and quality education for every child in the region. Our goal is to reach the remaining and most vulnerable 5% of children with no access to education in the region and support quality improvements in learning for every child.
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