Press release - COVID-19: call to protect education

Photo credit: Christine Redmond

Paris, 22 January 2021 - On the occasion of International Education Day, and as the pandemic is now depriving nearly half of the world's 214 million children of their right to education, the Education Coalition stresses the importance of strengthening commitments to the sector fundamental in development and humanitarian policies.

According to the latest figures from theUNESCOAs a result of the pandemic, 73% of children and young people aged 8-19 years who were in school before the pandemic have had their schools closed and 13% of them have been completely deprived of education. The crisis is hitting the most vulnerable hardest: children with disabilities, girls and adolescents, displaced persons, the poor and the rural population, etc. Deprived of schools and learning opportunities, these children and young people find themselves without social protection, access to hygiene and food, and are exposed to various forms of violence - including gender-based violence - and exploitation.

The consequences of this education crisis are alarming and call for an unprecedented mobilisation of international solidarity actors. According to UNESCO, education remains globally absent from the financial response to VOTE-19, benefiting from only 0.78 % (i.e. 96 billion dollars) of the global recovery plans. UN-COVID-19 could increase the annual funding gap for education in the poorest countries by a third, up to $200 billion a year. If commitments are not made now, with adequate funding, the risks of an entire generation being sacrificed remain immense.

We welcome the priority given by France to education and the commitments made since the new quinquennium, but today they remain insufficient. New efforts must be made to match the crisis so as not to jeopardise the progress made since the Jomtien conference in 1990 and theSustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure quality education for all by 2030.

We call on France to increase its efforts in education and to continue working with partner countries and civil society to help save the education sector. Lessons must be learned from this crisis to strengthen the most fragile education systems.

This year is crucial for education and will be marked by many international diplomatic events - including the Generation Equality Forum and the G7 in June, the Global Partnership for Education funding conference in July, the CONFEMEN ministerial session in October and the Francophonie Summit in December. We will continue to call on France to place education at the heart of the response to the UN-INFCCC and to reaffirm its leadership in mobilising the international community towards increased and sustainable funding for education worldwide.

Press contact:

Léa Rambaud, [email protected] / 06 01 00 04 74

About the Education Coalition :

The Education Coalition brings together 20 French civil society organisations: trade unions, international solidarity associations, NGOs defending the right to education, popular education organisations. Together, we demand the right to inclusive quality education for all, especially for the most vulnerable, and affirm that international solidarity is necessary to lead this fight.

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