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UN Declares 'Global Education Emergency,' Reveals Staggering Toll of Lockdowns on World's Children

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The U.N. children’s agency says at least a third of children couldn’t access remote learning when governments closed schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, creating “a global education emergency.”

At the height of lockdowns, nearly 1.5 billion children were affected by school closures, UNICEF said.

“For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,” she said in a statement.

“The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.”

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School children in sub-Saharan Africa were the most affected. South Asia had the highest number of affected children with at least 147 million, according to the report.

UNICEF said the report used a globally representative analysis on the availability of home-based technology and tools needed for remote learning, such as access to television, radio and internet.

Children in the poorest households and in rural areas were most affected.

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The youngest children are also most likely to miss out on learning during critical years, the report said, largely due to challenges and limitations to online learning for young children.

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