The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed schools and other learning spaces in recent months in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of the pandemic in April 2020, these nationwide closures impacted more than 1.5 billion students, or over 90% of the world’s student population, from pre-primary to higher education in 200 countries.
This unprecedented disruption to education has the potential to roll back substantial gains made on girls’ education in recent decades, with broader immediate and longer-term effects on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to poverty reduction, health and well-being, inclusive quality education and gender equality. The most marginalised, including girls with disabilities, those in conflict-affected contexts, remote and rural communities and those in the poorest quintile, are expected to be most affected by COVID-related school closures, facing additional constraints on their ability to fulfil their right to education, health and protection, among other rights.
UNESCO, United Nations Children’s Fund, PLAN International United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, Malala Fund (2020). Building back equal: girls back to school guide.