There have also been huge discrepancies in access to learning in wealthier nations during the pandemic, Save the Children said.
Students in the U.S. for example are more disconnected from the internet than students in other high-income countries, which likely also impacted their access to remote learning. Only two EU countries have lower levels of internet access than the U.S. – Bulgaria and Romania. At the start of the pandemic, upwards of 15 million students from kindergarten through to high school in U.S. public schools lacked adequate internet for distance learning at home.
Other wealthier countries also struggled to provide equal online alternatives for school-based learning. In Norway, while almost all youth between 9 and 18 years old has access to a smartphone, 30 percent did not have access to a PC at home. In the Netherlands, one in five children does not have a PC or tablet for home learning.
Governments and donors need to take immediate action to prevent an irreversible impact on the lives of millions of children who may never return to school, the agency warned.
Save the Children urged them to ensure that all children can return to school in a safe and inclusive way so the most marginalised children, including girls, are not robbed of a future by this pandemic. All children need to have access to catch up classes, so that children can make up for their lost learning, while recognising the huge emotional toll this crisis has taken.