Nearly 900 million children worldwide have not yet returned to school due to the covid-19 pandemic, which could make them more vulnerable to child labor and violence, warned Unicef executive director today.
Henrietta Fore participated today in a virtual press conference on covid-19 and children, together with leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) said that "there is a high percentage of countries that have no plans to resume school" and that 872 million children have not yet returned to school, which makes it “more vulnerable” to child labor and sexual abuse, physical and emotional violence.
"The longer children are absent from school, the more difficult they are to return to school," he maintained, warning that "there is a risk that millions of children will end up dropping out of school due to covid-19".
For Henrietta Fore, “priority should be given to the reopening of schools”, but also “increasing the possibilities of distance learning”, namely through radio and television, when schools remain closed.
The executive director of Unicef also stressed that at least 463 million children did not have access to distance learning due to lack of computers or internet connection.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay emphasized that "half of the world's school population has not yet returned to school" and warned that 11 million girls are at risk of "never going back to school".
For Audrey Azoulay, the reopening of schools in a “safe way” should “be a priority”, since in the “most disadvantaged areas” schools guarantee not only education, but also children's health, safety and nutrition.
"The decision to close schools should be the last resort, something temporary and only at the local level, in places where there is transmission between children," said the director-general of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that, in these In such cases, distance learning should be taken care of.
“It is possible that the virus is transmitted in schools, since it is transmitted in communities”, recalled the epidemiologist and technical leader of the response to covid-19 at WHO, Maria Van Kerkhove, reiterating that children are also infected and are infected by the new coronavirus, but less severely.
The executive director of the WHO Health Emergency Program, Mike Ryan, stressed that "there are no magic solutions", but stressed that, in order for children to continue in school, adults must maintain adequate physical distance to stop the community transmission of infection.
The covid-19 pandemic has already claimed at least 929.391 deaths and more than 29,3 million cases of infection in 196 countries and territories, according to a report by the French news agency AFP.
In Portugal, 1.875 people died from 65.021 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.
Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (type of virus) detected in late December in Wuhan, a city in central China, which spread rapidly around the world.
The new school year, in Portugal, started in public schools on Monday, resuming face-to-face classes.