As the world is facing an education crisis that could rob generations of a promising future, UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Food Program (WFP) have come together to call for greater investments in school health and nutrition as part of national, regional, and global recovery plans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion school-age children in more than 190 countries.
While many children will continue their education, current estimates indicate that 24 million children will never return to the classroom and among those, a disproportionate number of girls.
The findings were revealed in a joint position paper by UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, and WFP on the importance of investing in the wellbeing of children to safeguard education from the devastating impact of COVID-19.
UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, Stefania Giannini, warned: “the COVID-19 pandemic could undermine decades of progress, exacerbate entrenched inequalities and turn into a generational catastrophe”.
The attached Joint Statement urges governments and the international community to uphold these commitments and to consider school health and nutrition programmes as a critical part of national response and recovery plans.
Leaders are asked to advance an equitable, inclusive and progressive approach to education that includes comprehensive, integrated school health and nutrition programmes, so as to ensure that all children and young people have the required conditions to learn and thrive.