In response to a surge in school and university closures to contain the spread of COVID-19, UNESCO on Tuesday convened a global videoconference of high education officials to step up the emergency response and share strategies to minimize learning disruption worldwide. Seventy-three countries were represented including 24 education ministers and 15 vice ministers. According to data released today by UNESCO, the crisis is now impacting close to 363 million learners worldwide, from the pre-primary to tertiary level, including 57.8 million students in higher education. Fifteen countries have ordered nationwide school closures and 14 have implemented localized closures, spanning Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.
As the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General has pointed out, UNESCO said today that one in five students worldwide is staying away from school due to the COVID-19 crisis and an additional one in four is being kept out of institutions of higher education.
UNESCO also announced the creation of a UNESCO-COVID19 Emergency Task Force that will support national responses and share effective policy responses with a focus on the most vulnerable countries. UNESCO has published a curated list of freely accessible learning applications and platforms for use by parents, teachers and learners, as well as school systems.