The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners – over 90 percent of the world’s student population – in more than 190 countries due to COVID-19-related school closures. According to UNESCO data, some 24 million learners are at risk of not returning to school. In addition, the crisis risks increasing the annual funding gap for education in poorer countries to as much as US$200 billion per year.
Bringing together the expertise of the UN system and Education partners, the UN Secretary-General issued an extensive policy brief in August 2020, "UN Secretary-General's Policy Brief on education during and beyond COVID-19"
. The policy brief provides a series of recommendations to Member States on policy responses during school closures and re-opening and protecting education financing in the recovery.
As an immediate response to the crisis, UNESCO also established a Global Education Coalition to support countries in ensuring the continued learning of all during the unprecedented disruption and beyond. The Coalition brings together more than 150 members the UN family, civil society, academia and the private sector to ensure that #LearningNeverStops.
In line with the official theme of the UNGA general debate which stresses the unprecedented changes that the world is currently facing: ‘The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action’, the objective of this event is to:
1. Share with countries measures and best practices in responding to immediate challenges of school closures and re-openings. Concrete examples of how the Coalition members are engaging in supporting country needs will be showcased.
2. Reflect on lessons learned from the crisis thus far and how they can contribute to rethinking the future of education.