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UN Report on the Impact of Covid-19 on Children

  • 05 Aug 2020
  • 7 min read

Why in News

According to the recently released UN Report on the Impact of Covid-19 on Children, almost 24 million children could drop out or not have access to school next year due to the economic impact of Covid-19.

Key Points

  • Impact: The Covid-19 pandemic will impact the children all over the world in multiple ways:
    • Economic: An estimated 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of pandemic
      • The economic loss might reach 16,000 USD of lost earnings over a student’s lifetime, translating over time into 10 trillion USD of lost earnings globally.
    • Learning: 188 countries have imposed countrywide school closures, affecting more than 1.5 billion children and youth.
      • More than two-thirds of countries have introduced a national distance learning platform, but among low-income countries the share of distance learning is only 30%.
      • Online learning is not accessible for poor children, children from remote and conflict areas and children with disabilities.
      • A loss of learning by one-third (equivalent to a three-month school closure) during Grade 3 might result in 72% of students falling so far behind that by Grade 10 they will have dropped out or will not be able to learn anything in school.
    • Survival: Economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020,
      • This will reverse the last 2 to 3 years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year.
    • Health: Rising malnutrition is expected as 368.5 million children across 143 countries rely on school meals for a reliable source of daily nutrition.
      • There is a reduced access to essential reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health interventions.
      • Suspension of all polio vaccination campaigns worldwide and measles immunization campaigns in at least 23 countries will set back the decades-long effort to eliminate these diseases.
      • The effects of physical distancing measures and movement restrictions on children’s mental health represent another cause for concern.
    • Safety: Lockdowns and shelter in place measures come with heightened risk of children witnessing or suffering violence and abuse.
      • Children’s reliance on online platforms for distance learning has also increased their risk of exposure to inappropriate content and online predators.
      • Susceptibility to child marriage, early pregnancy and gender-based violence will also increase.
  • Uneven Distribution of Impact: The Covid-19 Pandemic has increased the existing socioeconomic disparities.
    • During the second quarter of 2020, 86% of children at the primary level have been effectively out of school in poor countries, compared to just 20% in highly developed countries.
    • The Covid-19 crisis is likely to increase the financing gap between education budgets and the money available to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of quality education by up to one-third.
      • The low and middle incomes already faced a USD 148-billion of the said financial gap.
    • Apart from the poor children, other vulnerable groups of children like migrants, the displaced, refugees, minorities, slum-dwellers, children living with disabilities, children living in refugee settlements, and children in institutions are likely to face a more severe impact.
    • The impact of Covid-19 is going to be more damaging for girls than boys, widening gender inequality.
    • Earlier this year, the Global Education Monitoring Report, 2020 was released by UNESCO which highlighted that the Covid-19 had worsened the inequalities in education systems worldwide.


  • Immediate rollout or expansion of social assistance to families, preferably through the use of universal child grants to prevent extreme poverty.
  • Securing food supply chains and local food markets, to protect children from a food security crisis.
  • Urgent adaptation of standard physical distancing and lockdown strategies in low-income and high population density settings.
  • Prioritizing the continuity of child-centred services, schooling, nutrition programmes, immunization and other maternal and newborn care, and community-based child protection programmes with a particular focus on equity of access.
  • Putting in place specific protections for vulnerable children.
  • Providing practical support to parents and caregivers to support the mental health and learning of the children.
  • Ensuring that children, adolescents and young people have access to Covid- 19 testing, treatment and vaccines as and when they become available.

Way Forward

  • To avoid the outcome of the pandemic, progress on three fronts is required : Information, Solidarity and Action.
  • It is critical that education is at the heart of international solidarity efforts, from debt management and stimulus packages to global humanitarian appeals and official development assistance.
  • Now is the time to step up international solidarity for children and humanity— and to lay the foundations for a deeper transformation of the way we nurture and invest in our world’s youngest generation.
  • India as a lower-middle-income country needs to use education as an equalizer for its widespread socioeconomic inequalities. Focus on increasing education budget in New Education Policy budget and decreasing digital divide are welcome steps to achieve this goal.

Source: TH

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