Educational disruption due to prolonged closure of schools across the globe will not only have alarming effects on learning loss but also poses threat to gender equality, a new study by UNESCO has pointed out. The global study titled "When schools shut: Gendered impacts of COVID-19 school closures" brings to the fore that girls and boys, young women and men were affected differently by school closures, depending on the context.

What the Study said

  1. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion students in 190 countries were affected by school closures. Not only did they lose access to education, but also to the myriad benefits of attending school, at an unparalleled scale, UNESCO said.
  2. Educational disruption of this extent has alarming effects on learning loss and school dropout.
  3. Beyond this, it poses threats to gender equality, including effects on health, well being and protection that are gender specific.
  4. Drawing on evidence from about 90 countries and in-depth data collected in local communities, the report shows that gender norms and expectations can affect the ability to participate in and benefit from remote learning.
  5. In poorer contexts, girls' time to learn was constrained by increased household chores. Boys' participation in learning was limited by income-generating activities.
  6. Girls faced difficulties in engaging in digital remote learning modalities in many contexts because of limited access to internet-enabled devices, a lack of digital skills and cultural norms restricting their use of technological devices.
  7. The study pointed out that digital gender-divide was already a concern before the COVID-19 crisis.
  8. To advance equal access to gender-responsive and inclusive remote learning, it is recommended to provide a range of remote learning options including low-tech and no-tech solutions spearhead and support efforts to reach the most at-risk learners design, develop gender-responsive educational resources and tools besides providing appropriate teacher support and training use formative assessments to track learning outcomes.