Unless developed world rescues education in poor countries, post-Covid world will be left much poorer

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August 22, 2020 6:15 AM

A letter signed by 275 former leaders, educationists and economists say that urgent steps need to be taken to reach the 260 million children worldwide who have already dropped out of schools.

UN secretary-general Antonio GuterresUN secretary-general Antonio Guterres (File image)

The Save Our Future campaign—launched by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres—has urged G20 leaders in the government and financial institutions to take immediate steps to prevent the long-term loss of learning among the poorest in the ‘Covid generation’. A letter signed by 275 former leaders, educationists and economists say that urgent steps need to be taken to reach the 260 million children worldwide who have already dropped out of schools, and 75 million more who face a double-whammy, the pandemic and conflict in the places where they live. With 300 million unable to access meals through schools, the pandemic is also driving hunger.

The letter makes a special mention of the fact that the pandemic response and its economic impact will drive down investment in education—by as much as $100-150 billion than previously planned in low- and middle-income nations. To address this, the experts urge all countries to protect frontline education spending with a focus on the needs of the most disadvantaged. They also urge the G20 leaders to ensure international aid for education is increased drastically. The debt of the 76 poorest countries’ that needs to be paid over the next two years—around $86 billion—needs to be suspended to allow them to direct that money towards education. They also have pushed for the IMF creating a $1.2 trillion line in Special Drawing Rights to push for recovery of education in the countries that need this the most. Unless the global community pitches in to save the future of millions of kids, the post Covid world will be left much poorer than before.

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