School closures result in complex problems like child labor, marriage — UNICEF

Published by rudy Date posted on August 26, 2021

By CNN Philippines Staff, 26 Aug 2021

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) — Prolonged school closures result in complex problems, including “heightened risk of drop out, child labor and child marriage,” the United Nations Children’s Fund Philippines said.

UNICEF Philippines made this statement as it renewed its call for the reopening of schools in phases, starting with those in low-risk areas. Another year of online classes will officially start next month.

“This (reopening of schools) can be done on a voluntary basis with proper safety protocols in place,” UNICEF Philippines said in a statement.

The Philippines is one of the only five countries in the world that have not yet resumed physical classes since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year, affecting more than 27 million Filipino students, the UN agency pointed out.

In 2020, schools across the world were closed for an average of 79 teaching days, while those in the Philippines were shut for more than a year already, UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said.

“The associated consequences of school closures — learning loss, mental distress, missed vaccinations, and heightened risk of drop out, child labor, and child marriage — will be felt by many children, especially the youngest learners in critical development stages,” she added.

Remote learning will still be implemented in the new school year, which starts on Sept. 13, the Department of Education said. The same approach was used during the previous academic year.

DepEd has been pushing for limited face-to-face classes, too. But President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected previous attempts to bring students back to the classrooms amid the spread of the coronavirus.

While countries worldwide have efforts to provide distance learning, “29% of primary students are not being reached,” according to UNICEF.

“In addition to lack of assets for remote learning, the youngest children may not be able to participate due to a lack of support using the technology, a poor learning environment, pressure to do household chores, or being forced to work,” it added.

UNICEF also urged other governments to resume in-person learning as soon as possible and to provide recovery response for students.

UNESCO, together with World Bank and UNICEF, called on governments to focus on targeted programs, including effective remedial learning as well as support for teachers to address learning loss and to incorporate technology into their teaching.

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