The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of daily life, but presents an added burden on children and families. Closures of schools and child care facilities have had dramatic impacts on the lives of children and put a strain on caregivers to meet children’s developmental needs at home. This in combination with economic instability and social isolation is a recipe for toxic stress, which can have long-term negative effects on brain development and health.1 These cascading effects of the pandemic are widespread, but are disproportionately affecting families living in communities challenged by decades of discrimination and disinvestment—and are very likely to widen already existing educational equity gaps in worrisome ways.2
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, children typically spent only about 20 percent of their waking hours in the classroom.3 Even so, policymakers and educational leaders have invested most of their time and resources on top-down reforms to improve access to and quality of formal learning spaces (e.g., classroom instruction). If such efforts—though vital—were too narrow previously, COVID-19 makes it even more apparent that children need a wider range of enriching learning opportunities, including in the places they go every day…………………………………………………………………
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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