According to research by the United Nations agency UNICEF, the closure of schools and child care centres due to COVID-19 has deprived at least 40 million children worldwide of early childhood education.
A recent report released by UNICEF’s research division examines the impact of COVID-19 on other services related to children around the world, including preschool education and childcare.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that children are deprived of their early childhood education due to barriers to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that childcare and early childhood education provide the foundation for children’s development in every way, and this foundation is under serious threat from the pandemic.
On the subject of the global crisis of child care, it has been said that COVID-19 has affected family life and work and many parents are facing difficulties in balancing child care and employment due to lockdown.
The report says the lockdown has placed an unbalanced burden on women, who on average take care of three times more children and do housework than men.
The UNICEF study found that the closures had hit families in particular, especially children as in poorer countries where they already had no access to social services.
According to research, before COVID-19, expensive and substandard childcare and early education forced parents to leave their children in an unsafe environment that was not conducive to their development.
The study found that less than half of the world’s 166 countries offered free tuition, a pre-primary program for at least a year, which dropped to 15 per cent in poor countries.
According to recent documents, in 54 developing countries, 40% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 are unable to learn from adults for social and mental mobilization in their homes.
UNICEF says the lack of child care and early education has left parents, especially mothers working in the informal sector, with no choice but to employ their children.
The study, based on children’s early education, found that more than 10 out of 9 women in Africa and about 7 out of 10 in Asia work in the informal sector and have no social protection.
The report says that due to these uncertainties and low salaries, many parents have fallen into the mire of poverty.
UNICEF says accessible quality childcare and early education are important for the social development of families and societies, so children should be provided with these facilities from birth to grade one.