Online Desk : Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has called on world leaders to keep educational institutions open for the good of children.
"As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues its spread all over the world, we urge governments to do everything in their power to keep it from further disrupting children`s education," said Henrietta in a statement issued on Friday (January 28).
The UN body made the call while the government of Bangladesh closed all educational institutions from 21 January to 6 February in the wake of a rising trend of Covid-19 in the country.
However, to avert a learning catastrophe and put children back on the learning track, Unicef made several recommendations including a continuation of academic activities.
Making a call to keep schools open, the Unicef statement said, "An estimated 616 million children are currently affected by full or partial school closures. We know that mitigation measures help keep schools open. We also know that investments in digital connectivity can help us make sure that no child is left behind. We need bold action to enable every child to return to school. This includes providing comprehensive support with a particular focus on marginalised children in each community, such as catch-up classes, mental health and nutrition support, protection and other key services."
Henrietta Fore asked the nations to vaccinate teachers and school staff immediately.
"Teachers and school personnel should be fully supported and prioritised to receive Covid-19 vaccines, once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations are vaccinated," he said.
In addition to supporting the vaccination of children, he said children should be vaccinated once vaccines are available to them and once priority groups are fully protected.
But he urged not to make vaccination a pre-requisite for in-person schooling. Making access to in-person schooling contingent on Covid-19 vaccination risks denying children access to education and increasing inequalities.
Consistent with WHO recommendations, Unicef recommends keeping schools open and ensuring that countries` Covid-19 control strategies facilitate children`s participation in education and other aspects of social life, even without vaccinating children and adolescents.
"In crisis conditions there are always difficult decisions that force difficult trade-offs, and we recognise the unprecedented challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic is creating for school systems worldwide. But the stakes are too high. We must collectively do everything we can to keep children in school," explained the Unicef executive director.