1 billion children may be out of school due to pandemic

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World Bank President David Malpass on Wednesday expressed concerns about the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on school-aged children in developing countries, especially if there is another spike in infections that prolongs the health crisis.In an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” Malpass said there were also educational challenges in wealthy countries like the United States as schools turned to virtual classrooms that could prevent parents from returning to the United States. job. However, he said his concerns are more pronounced about other nations.

“Learning goes backwards. It’s a particular problem in the developing world, ”said Malpass. “We believe there are… 1 billion out-of-school children in developing countries who are really waiting for the recovery to take hold. So if there is the second wave, that’s a problem. ”

Malpass is not the first to sound the alarm about the harmful effects of the pandemic on children. Last month, the United Nations warned that at least 24 million students around the world could drop out of school due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

“The longer children stay out of school, the less likely they are to return,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, said during a press appeal in September. “This is why we are urging governments to prioritize reopening schools when restrictions are lifted. ”

Malpass, a former US Treasury Department official who became president of the World Bank in 2019, stressed the need to control the pandemic through the development of therapies and vaccines. The damage it has already caused is considerable, he said, with 150 million more people now expected to be in extreme poverty next year.

This represents “a giant worsening of the conditions of poverty around the world due to the pandemic and the closures,” he said. The number of people living in extreme poverty – that is, on less than $ 1.90 a day according to the World Bank – had been declining for about a quarter of a century.

As the pandemic-induced recession eased in wealthy countries, Malpass said it had not been a shared experience across the world. “Outside of China, many developing countries are worse off than previously anticipated, so it’s this uneven recovery process underway,” he said.

Poor countries with large populations like India, Ethiopia and Nigeria in particular face “serious challenges”, Malpass said. He also referred to Zambia, whose government has called for delays in paying its obligations, including just this week.

Long-term solutions are needed to help developing countries that have been pushed back by the pandemic, argued Malpass. He said the World Bank, which has provided billions of dollars in support to countries against coronaviruses, continues to do its part to help foster economic recovery.

“We are focused on providing additional net resources. That helps. Also help countries to find ways to attract private sector investment and, above all, this process of debt reduction, ”he said. The organization “tries to make creditors recognize that it is in their long-term interest and in the interest of the world to reduce the real stock of debt in order to create a better future for some of the poorest countries.”

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