At U.N. meeting, world leaders asked to focus on education crisis – The Washington Post

by | Sep 21, 2022 | Education

Listen4 minComment on this storyCommentGift ArticleActivists at an education summit in New York City implored world leaders Monday to prioritize school systems and restore educational budgets cut when the coronavirus pandemic hit.The summit, held at the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly before the annual leaders’ meeting, called on the world’s nations to ensure that children everywhere don’t fall too far behind.“Seven years ago, I stood on this platform hoping that the voice of a teenage girl who took a bullet in standing up for her education would be heard,” said Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, a U.N. messenger of peace. “On that day, countries, corporates, civil society, all of us committed to work together to see every child in schools by 2030. It is heartbreaking that halfway through that target date, we are facing an education emergency.”Nigerian youth activist Karimot Odebode was more pointed. “We demand you take responsibility,” Odebode told the General Assembly. “We will not stop until every person in every village and every highland has access to an education.”The percentage of 10-year-old children in poor and middle-income countries who cannot read a simple story increased to an estimated 70 percent — up 13 percentage points since before the pandemic shut down in-person schools, according to a report from two U.N. agencies and the World Bank.Helping their youngest citizens learn to read and gain the other skills will require addressing problems that existed before the pandemic, dignitaries and students say. Countries will need to increase spending, change policies to increase access for girls and disabled students, and modernize instruction to stress critical thinking rather than memorization.“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to radically transform education,” U.N. Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed told reporters before the education summit at U.N. headquarters in New York.A closing statement from the United Nations after the meeting said 130 countries had committed to “rebooting their education systems” and taking action to end the learning crisis. It was unclear how they would do this. Countries were asked to devote at least 20 percent of their national budgets to education.When the pandemic closed schools around the world in spring 2020, many children stopped learning — some for months, others for longer. More than 800 million young people around the world lacked internet access at home, according to a study by the U.N. education agency and the International Telecommunication Union in December 2020.The estimated learning delays on average ranged from over 12 months of school for students in South Asia to less than four for students in Europe and Central Asia, according to an analysis by consulting fir …

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