Children must be Safe to Learn during COVID-19

With school closures all over the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all students must study from home. Yet many of them are not safe to learn at home. As violence is much less visible when it is perpetrated at home and when children have limited contact with others outside the home, GPE and its partners have developed recommendations on preventing and responding to violence against children in and through all learning environments.

May 19, 2020 by Heather Saunders, Global Partnership for Education
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2 minutes read
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A student holding its work book at a learning center in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. September 2019
A student holding its work book at a learning center in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. September 2019.
GPE/Chantal Rigaud

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an education emergency of unprecedented scale.

Globally over 1 billion learners have been affected by COVID-19 and its impacts on schools. Yet many children will not be safe to learn at home.

In normal times schools are an entry point to prevent and address violence against children. Violence is much less visible when it is perpetrated at home and when children have limited contact with others outside the home. Girls, children with disabilities, and other marginalized children are particularly at risk without the protection of school systems.

GPE and its partners in the Safe to Learn campaign, have developed recommendations on preventing and responding to violence against children in and through all learning environments.

These recommendations highlight the need for governments to:

  • Enable a comprehensive cross-sector response to prevent and respond to violence in and through distance learning environments.
  • Take responsibility for ensuring children are ‘safe to learn at home’ - and implement plans now to address the short- and long-term impacts the pandemic will have on education systems and student safety.
  • Plan for the reopening of schools and student safety.

As schools and learning move increasingly online, the Safe to Learn coalition has also issued guidance for facilitating safe, effective online learning experiences for children during COVID-19. This guidance is directed at education ministries as they develop policies and resources to support schools in providing a safe online learning experience.

As this crisis abates, it is education systems that will serve as the foundation for recovery, repairing the torn fabric of society.

Governments and donors must respond now to ensure we can ‘build back better’, ensuring every child learning remotely, and returning to school, will be safe to learn.

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