By Vatican News
Until two weeks ago, China was the only country mandating school closures.
In the last few hours, another thirteen countries have followed suit. Their decision comes as governments across the globe adopt a series of precautionary health measures aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, these school shutdowns are impacting some 290.5 million children and young people who should be attending classes from pre-primary to upper-secondary school.
That number could increase by another 180 million if a further nine countries decide to extend their localized school closures to include the entire nation.
UNESCO has responded by supporting the implementation of distance-learning programmes and educational platforms that allow teachers to reach students remotely.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, confirmed the Organization is “working with countries to assure the continuity of learning for all, especially disadvantaged children and youth who tend to be hardest hit by school closures”. She described the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption as “unparalleled”, one that, if prolonged, “could threaten the right to education”.