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UNICEF scales up support in 145 countries to keep children learning
update:March 30,2020
UNITED NATIONS, March 30,2020 -- The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Thursday that it will significantly scale up support to help children in 145 countries continue their learning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As nationwide school closures disrupt the education for more than 80 percent of students worldwide, UNICEF has allocated additional funding to accelerate work with governments and partners in more than 145 low- and middle-income countries, said the fund in a press release.
The initial global allocation of 13 million U.S. dollars -- 8.8 million dollars of which is from a contribution made by the Global Partnership for Education -- will be catalytic by supporting national governments and a wide range of education partners in each country to develop plans to enable a rapid, system-wide response, it said.
The initiative will enable countries to prepare alternative learning programs in the case of school closures and help schools keep children and their communities safe by providing vital information on hand-washing and other hygiene practices.
The funds will also help support children's mental health and prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.
"Schools in the majority of countries worldwide have closed. It is an unprecedented situation and unless we collectively act now to protect children's education, societies and economies will feel the burden long after we've beaten COVID-19. In the most vulnerable communities, the impact will span generations," said Robert Jenkins, UNICEF global chief of education.
"Based on lessons learned with the school closures in response to Ebola, the longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return. Giving children alternative ways to learn and also by doing so, rebuild a routine is a critical part of our response," said Jenkins.
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