International UNESCO’s take on school closures and their negative effects on children and...

UNESCO’s take on school closures and their negative effects on children and families

With schools being closed, children now lack the opportunity for learning, growth and further educational development

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With over one million people testing positive for novel coronavirus worldwide, the shift of most countries has been to lock down all cities and towns, as well as close down businesses, schools and any non-essential corporations and enterprises. Although the move to quarantine is not only necessary and detrimental to “flattening the curve” of Covid-19, there are many harmful consequences that have occurred due to such closures.

UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, speaks about how the temporary closure of schools has an immediate impact on children and families of all different social standings, even more so for those that happen to be classified as “disadvantaged.” UNESCO shares that their list may not be complete, but it does explain the reason why everyone needs to be aware of the negative implications of closing down schools for all.

Some of UNESCO’s reasons include a lack of proper nutrition due to school closures. Many underprivileged children depend on getting food and meals while they are in school. So, when school is cancelled, chances are their nutrition will become lacking too, or in worse cases, they might even go without a meal at all. Another consequence is what UNESCO calls ‘interrupted learning.’ This means that with schools being closed, children now lack the opportunity for learning, growth and further educational development.

Yet another issue is that parents now have to deal with their children being home all day. Not only are they not ready to handle homeschooling and doing distance learning, if their homes do not have the proper resources and equipment needed, there is also too much pressure on both parents and children to make it work. Plus add the fact that many families are impoverished and don’t have proper internet access at home, it makes it highly disadvantageous for them.

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UNESCO also cites that parents end up staying home from work to now take care of their children that would otherwise be in school, losing the opportunity to earn a living. Many workers in health care tend to be women, and when they are forced to stay home and care for their children rather than go to work, this also puts a strain on health care systems, especially during a time of a worldwide health crisis.

For those parents that do not have a choice when it comes to working, they end up leaving their children home alone, which can negatively impact kids as well. Children end up with a much higher tendency to fall into bad social behaviours like lying, substance abuse, petty crime and becoming violent. This also makes the chances of these kids returning to school once they open again quite slim.

Other problems that arise from school closures are children becoming withdrawn and lacking in social interaction. Attending school forces these kids to have actual human interaction, but if there is no school to go to, they can retreat into a world of complete isolation which can lead to anxiety and depression. And for those schools that are forced to remain open for one reason or another, they end up taking on more children as a result, overburdening the school, the teachers and the administration.

While UNESCO admits that these points may not tackle all of the complex problems that come with school closures, they are definitely at the forefront of the issue and have immediate negative effects on everyone involved. /TISG

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