70 million children across Africa and Asia face reading crises

A report by the ONE campaign humanitarian group on Monday revealed that more than 70 million children could lack basic literacy skills by the end of 2021, with the Covid-19 global pandemic contributing to 17% of this figure.

South Africa -Gracious Angels pre-primary school grade R pupils, Khensani Khoza and Tsholofelo Inwina read during the City of Tshwane’s annual Born to Read campaign held at Olievenhoutbosch community Library. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)

CAPE TOWN, March 22 (ANA) – A report by the ONE campaign humanitarian group on Monday revealed that more than 70 million children could lack basic literacy skills by the end of 2021, with the Covid-19 global pandemic contributing to 17% of this figure.

According to Al Jazeera media network, these calculations are based on figures released by UNESCO, the World Bank and UN population data.

With governments across the globe implementing hard lockdowns and extended lockdowns throughout 2020 to contain the spread of the coronavirus, around 1.6 billion children in 188 countries were heavily affected.

“Our report shows over half the world’s 10-year-olds could lack the basic literacy skills expected of a child at that age,” read a tweet by One Campaign.

“In addition, learning losses due to Covid-19 could add up to $10 trillion on lost earnings for the school children affected by the pandemic,” they said.

The report further stated that if the current pace continues, then the estimated number of children at risk would increase to 750 million by 2030, which equates to nearly one in 10 people worldwide.

With schools closed for the most part of 2020, children were forced to remote learning, however, the increase in online learning has been unbalanced in my parts of the world due to infrastructure and technology.

According to the analysis, 38.1% of the children at risk were from sub-Saharan Africa, 32.9 from South Asia and 10% from East Asia and Pacific.

“[This] kicks off a whole lifetime of self-directed learning and innovation and has implications for their ability to get an education, innovate, get a job, earn and so on,” executive director for global policy at The ONE Campaign, David McNair, told Al Jazeera.

“Unless we take urgent action, the legacy of the pandemic could be millions more children denied the chance to understand words on a page,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA), Edited by Devereaux Morkel

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