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Children from poor homes mostly affected by impacts of COVID-19 pandemic― Report

CHILDREN from poorest households across the globe suffered greatest loss of family income, missed out most on education and faced the highest risk of violence at home amidst COVID-19 pandemic, a report has revealed.

The report, ‘Protect A Generation’ unveiled by the Save the Children International was the product of the largest global survey of its kind among some 25,000 children and adults on the impact of the pandemic.

It stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the education of children from poorer backgrounds, thereby widening the gap between the rich and poor.

The Save the Children report added that for the past six months since the pandemic was announced, the most vulnerable children have disproportionately missed out on access to education, healthcare, food, and suffered the greatest protection risks.

The survey revealed that two-thirds of the children had no contact with teachers at all, during lockdown, while eight in ten children believed they had learned little or nothing since schools closed.

It also stated that 93 per cent of households lost over half of their income due to the pandemic reported difficulties in accessing health services.

The report further revealed that violence at home doubled when schools were closed, “when schools were closed, the reported rate was 17 per cent compared to 8 per cent when schools were open and the child was able to attend in person.”

The survey, however, revealed that 63 per cent of girls are more often tasked to do more chores around the house, compared to 43 per cent of boys, adding that investment in education, health and nutrition, child protection services, mental health services and safety nets are urgently needed.

The SCI noted that COVID-19 pandemic has in fact widened inequalities along wealth and gender lines, adding that poorer households more likely to suffer income losses (82 per cent) than those not classified as poor (70 per cent).

The survey also showed that nine in ten households that lost over half of their income due to the pandemic reported difficulties in accessing health services, noting that 45 per cent of respondents from poor households reported having trouble paying for medical supplies during the pandemic.

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“Less than 1 per cent of the poorer children interviewed had access to internet for distance learning. Among households that classified themselves as non-poor, it was 19 per cent.”

“Children who fall behind in their education run a greater risk of dropping out completely and falling victim to child labour, child marriage and other forms of exploitation. Save the Children estimates that this pandemic has caused the largest education emergency in history, with some 9.7 million children not returning to school this year, “ the survey also revealed.

Meanwhile,  Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria said it is important to build a resilient education system to curb future shocks as schools set to resume in the country.

“As the Nigerian government plans to re-open schools after prolonged closures, it is necessary to think about how to build a resilient education system to withstand future shocks, and also to ensure that an emergency education plan is mainstreamed into the contingency plan of the entire country,” Gichuhi said.

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