UNESCO addresses G20 education ministers’ meeting

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Education Ministers from G20 countries committed to work collaboratively to address widespread disruptions in education and ensure learning continuity for all, especially the most vulnerable, during a special virtual meeting organized by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, chair of the G20, on 27 June 2020.

In a statement to the meeting, Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant-Director General for Education, warned that education is under severe threat and urged countries to make it a foundation for an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

In G20 countries alone nationwide closures have impacted 915 million children and youth and 40 million teachers. Only eight G20 countries have re-opened schools or plan to do so before the end of the academic year.

According to UNESCO estimates released at the meeting, 17 million children and youth are at risk of not returning to schools, of whom nine million are in G20 countries.

“It is in the hands of every government and the international community to make the right policy choices,” said Ms Giannini. “These must be based on inclusion, equity and resilience – to ensure learning continuity now and to avoid backsliding when schools reopen.”

Warning that the economic shock associated with COVID-19 pandemic will outweigh that of the 2008/09 financial crisis, she urged governments to prioritize education, underscoring the positive linkages with health.

According to UNESCO calculations for eleven G20 countries with data, even if the same level of investment is maintained in education, available resources will decline by 1.4 trillion US dollars, or 8% less than without COVID -19.

In a statement issued for the meeting, G20 education ministers recognize the importance of blended learning approaches, and commit to building resilience and recovery plans into education systems to prepare more effectively for future disruptions.

They invite international organizations and the private sector to assist with the development of educational content and digital solutions for facilitating education continuity.