When Schools Shut: Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 School Closures

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Paris, 11 October, 2021 – When schools shut, a global study exposing the gendered impact of COVID-19 school closures on learning, health and well-being, has been released by UNESCO on the occasion of the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October. It finds that while gender norms and expectations can affect the ability to participate in remote learning, interventions that challenge gender-based barriers can limit learning loss and drop-out rates when schools reopen safely.

“Despite swift action by governments and their partners to ensure continuity of learning, COVID-19 school closures have hampered children’s and young people’s right to inclusive and quality education in countries across the world,” said UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini. “The examples included in this report remind us that the path to equality is not a straight line and that purposeful, sustained and collaborative actions are needed to get us on track and to build back equal.”

The study includes a review of published research and a large-scale survey of organizations working globally on gender equality in education, as well as in-depth data collected in local communities in Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali and Pakistan.

Four main areas where gendered impacts have been observed:

Most countries across all income groups report providing teachers with different forms of support. Few programmes, however, helped teachers recognize the gender risks, disparities and inequalities that emerged during COVID-19 closures. Female teachers also have been largely expected to take on a dual role to ensure continuity of learning for their students, while facing additional childcare and unpaid domestic responsibilities in their homes during school closures.

The study calls on the education community to factor gender in policies and programmes to tackle declining participation and low return-to-school rates in vulnerable communities, including through cash transfers and specific support to pregnant girls and adolescent mothers.

Continued efforts are needed to track trends and expand interventions to bring an end to child marriages as well as early and forced marriages. practices which rob girls of their right to education and health and reduce their long-term prospects. Yet, such marriages appear to be increasing in some contexts. More work is also needed to document good practices, notably those that are equity-focused and designed to leave no one behind.

The study also demonstrates a strong need for no-tech and low-tech remote learning solutions, measures to enable schools to provide comprehensive psychosocial support and to monitor participation through sex-disaggregated data, among other necessary measures.

Извор: WUNRN – 19.12.2021