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UNESCO study on school closures and gender equality


Educational disruption due to prolonged closure of schools across the globe will not only have alarming effects on learning loss but also poses threat to gender equality, a new study by UNESCO has pointed out.


GS-II: Social Justice and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Gendered impacts of Covid-19 school closures study
  2. Way Forwards suggested

About the Gendered impacts of Covid-19 school closures study

  • The global study titled “When schools shut: Gendered impacts of Covid-19 school closures” brings to the fore that girls and boys, young women and men were affected differently by school closures, depending on the context.
  • At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion students in 190 countries were affected by school closures.

Highlights of the study on impact of school closures

  • In poorer contexts, girls’ time to learn was constrained by increased household chores. Boys’ participation in learning was limited by income-generating activities.
  • Girls faced difficulties in engaging in digital remote learning modalities in many contexts because of limited access to internet-enabled devices, a lack of digital skills and cultural norms restricting their use of technological devices. The study pointed out that digital gender-divide was already a concern before the Covid-19 crisis.
  • School closures have impacted children’s health, notably their mental health, well-being and protection.
  • Girls reported more stress, anxiety and depression than boys in 15 countries across the world. LGBTQI learners reported high levels of isolation and anxiety.

Way Forwards suggested

  • The study calls on the education community to factor gender in policies and programmes to tackle declining participation and low return-to-school rates in vulnerable communities, including through cash transfers and specific support to pregnant girls and adolescent mothers.
  • Continued efforts are needed to track trends and expand interventions to bring an end to child marriages as well as early and forced marriages, practices which rob girls of their right to education and health and reduce their long-term prospects.
  • A strong need for no-tech and low-tech remote learning solutions, measures to enable schools to provide comprehensive psychosocial support and to monitor participation through sex-disaggregated data, among other necessary measures is needed.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023