School closures: UNICEF warns of adverse effects on children

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Apart from having a severe impact on a child’s ability to learn, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that school closures increases the risk of teenage pregnancy, sexual exploitation, child marriage, violence and other threats.

Last month, in response to these imminent threats, UNICEF prepared and published a 5-page framework for reopening schools to support national governments and other decision makers in their efforts to reopen classrooms within their communities while trying to contain and stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The international organisation advised that, ‘School reopenings should be guided by the best interest of the child and overall public health considerations, based on assessment of the associated benefits and risks and informed by cross-sectoral and context-specific evidence, including education, public health and socio-economic factors.

It also highlighted six (6) key dimensions to assess the states of readiness of schools identified for reopening and inform planning. These include: policy, financing, safe operations, learning, reaching the most marginalised and wellbeing/protection.

‘Contextualization and adaptation will be critical to respond to local needs and conditions, particularly in contexts where there are multiple deprivations (such as densely populated areas, low water settings, conflict, etc.),’ UNICEF writes in the framework.

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