The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has warned that total aid to education is likely to decline by 12 percent by 2022 as a result of the economic consequences of COVID-19.This, according to the UN agency, is a threat to the recovery of education from the disruption of the pandemic.
UNESCO said the pandemic further aggravates education-financing gaps, saying under the school closure and GDP growth scenarios, COVID-19 increases the annual funding gap of US$148 billion by up to one-third, to as much as US$200 billion.
The UN agency, which is responsible for global education, said additional costs are needed to ensure children are safe when they return to classes, with access to hygiene facilities and extra classrooms needed to enable physical distancing.
“These programmes and actions will add US$5-US$35 billion to the financing need. They are however far cheaper than having to roll out second chance programmes later down the line. Acting now rather than later could reduce the potential cost of COVID-19 on education by 75 percent,” it said.
According to a UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank survey, distance-teaching solutions are simply not an option for at least 580 million students in low- and middle-income countries.
The agency advised governments in low- and lower-middle-income countries to resist pressure to cut their budget for education because of the difficult fiscal environment.
Investment for schools and learners must be maintained if not increased, and governments must also direct a significant part of their education budget to the most marginalised regions and schools, it added.
In Ghana, schools are reopening this month after a nine-month-long closure since March 2020, when the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the country.