TRIBUNE - Presidential election 2022: make education a top priority

Photo credit: Julie PUDLOWSKI

Today, only education can help children and young people to recover from the trauma of VIC-19 and become informed citizens capable of building a more just and resilient world tomorrow. Aide et Action is therefore calling on the candidates for the 2022 presidential elections to commit themselves to making education an absolute priority both in France and in the framework of France's international cooperation and solidarity policy.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed history. From a health and social crisis, it has become in a few weeks a global economic crisis, affecting all aspects of daily life, hitting men and even more ferociously women. But today, it is the very future of the world that it threatens. For while children have been relatively spared by the disease itself, they have suffered the full force of the economic and social consequences of the crisis.

The confinement and social restrictions imposed by states, including France, have deprived children of their most basic rights: the lack of access to health care today leads to fears of an explosion of diseases, even those that are usually avoidable. Intra-family violence has exploded. Finally, for weeks, the school, a privileged place for learning, of course, but also for free speech, games, debate and social links, and finally for the supervision of benevolent childcare professionals, remained closed.

Learning and post-traumatic stress in France

In France, distance learning has led to learning losses. Reading performance In particular, there has been a significant deterioration in the quality of education and inequalities between advantaged pupils and those in priority education have become even more pronounced. Many children have dropped out. From 4 to 5% according to the national education authorities, much more according to the teachers.

In addition to learning problems, the crisis has given rise to serious psychological problems, which still affect the health of the youngest children. Many have been victims of violence from which they will never recover. Loss of confidence, difficulties in getting down to work and stress have exploded in the context of school life. The anguish of isolation, added to the multiple breaks in rhythm between total confinement and semi-personal schooling, the risks of contamination, and the obligation to take tests, have distressed and traumatised many young people, leading in particular to an increase in paedo-psychiatric hospitalisations 

More than half of the world's children are deprived of well-being

In the rest of the world, where the social model is far from guaranteeing as it does in France The consequences are even more dire when it comes to free and compulsory access to health, education and protection. 86 million children have been driven into extreme poverty, hunger and suffering. 24 million children will never return to school because of the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. 8 million have already been forced to work, sometimes in extremely dangerous conditions, to make up for lost income. And more than 13 million girls have been or will be forcibly married by 2030 in the hope of having one less mouth to feed and a few more euros in their pockets. And it is likely that these initial estimates are far, far away from the difficult reality that we will have to face. Even before the pandemic it was estimated that 617 million children, or one in six worldwide, lacked basic skills. The pandemic is estimated to have resulted in an increase of at least 10%. More than half the world's children would not be able to read a simple sentence today. Under these conditions, what kind of world can we envisage for tomorrow? What kind of society can we build? What kind of life will we leave to our children?

The coming catastrophe is on an unprecedented scale and, for the first time, the world may be going backwards. For Aide et Action, a development association, it is not too late to remedy this situation and save the future of entire generations. This is why we are calling on the candidates for the 2022 presidential elections to commit themselves to making education an absolute priority, both on French soil and in the framework of France's international cooperation and solidarity policy. Only access to quality education will help young people become more resilient, help them overcome trauma and prepare them for the new crises that are bound to arise. It will ensure the realisation of basic human rights, the building of informed citizens and the creation of a just and sustainable world. At the dawn of a new presidential term, France must set an example and ensure that this essential right, which is the guarantor of other fundamental rights, is applied and respected throughout the world. 

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