United Nations, Jul 21 (EFE) .- The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) warned on Tuesday that at least 40 million children worldwide have been left without preschool education due to the closure of the centers of child care and early education for the coronavirus pandemic at a stage of formation that they consider “essential”.
“Disruption of educational services due to the pandemic is preventing children from starting their education as well as possible,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement to the press on the occasion of the publication of a report. prepared by Unicef-Innocenti that analyzes the state of childcare and early childhood education worldwide.
“Early childhood care and education build the foundation on which all aspects of children’s development rest. The pandemic is seriously threatening that foundation,” Fore said.
CHILD CARE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PANDEMIC
The report, titled “Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on Work and Family Life,” includes an analysis of the impact of the widespread closure of essential services for families due to the pandemic.
Specifically, she points out that the confinements have caused many parents to have to strive to balance child care and paid employment, and stresses that a disproportionate burden of this situation has been borne by women who “on average dedicate three times more time to care and housework than men, “says the UNICEF statement.
The confinements have hit the families of young children hardest, especially in low- and middle-income countries, because many of them were no longer able to access social protection services.
“Childcare is essential to provide children with comprehensive services, affection, protection, stimulation and nutrition. At the same time, it enables them to develop social, emotional and cognitive skills,” warns the organization.
The report also details that more than 35 million children under the age of five globally have been left at some point unsupervised by an adult, and that early childhood and early childhood education services that were inaccessible, unaffordable, or of poor quality Even before the coronavirus, many parents were forced to leave young children “in unsafe and unstimulating environments at a critical point in their development.”
“Of 166 countries, less than half offer preschool education programs without enrollment of at least one year, a figure that falls to 15% when it comes to low-income countries,” says UNICEF, adding that “in 54 low-income countries and average incomes for which there are recent data, around 40% of children between 3 and 5 years old do not enjoy socio-emotional and cognitive stimulation by any adult in their home “.
It also reveals that 9 out of 10 women in Africa and almost 7 out of 10 in Asia and the Pacific work in the informal sector and do not have access to any form of social protection, while indicating that many parents are trapped in this type of unreliable and poorly paid employment, “which contributes to intergenerational cycles of poverty.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the global crisis in child care,” said Fore, who complemented that “families need the support of their governments and their employers to weather this storm and safeguard their children’s learning and development. “