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UNICEF says ongoing closure of schools is affecting child development

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund says many young children are missing the milestone of their first day at school as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a Bangkok Post report, UNICEF says ongoing school closures risk harming children’s development and mental health.

UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore says countless children have already missed out on months of face-to-face teaching as a result of schools across Thailand being closed. The closures were prompted by the resurgence of Covid-19 earlier in this year, in what turned out to be the worst wave to hit Thailand since the start of the pandemic. Fore says her organisation recently carried out a survey of young Thai children which showed that the loss of in-person learning has had a significant impact on their mental health.

“The first day of school is a landmark moment in a child’s life. Most of us can remember countless minor details – what clothes we wore, our teacher’s name, who we sat next to. But for millions of children, that important day has been indefinitely postponed.”

Fore says there is a risk some children in the most vulnerable sectors of society will never see the inside of a classroom.

“As classes resume in many parts of the world, millions of first graders have been waiting to see the inside of a classroom for over a year. Millions more may not see one at all this school term. For the most vulnerable, their risk of never stepping into a classroom in their lifetime is skyrocketing.”

Fore says the first year of school sets the foundation for future learning and teaches children to become independent, to follow routines, and to build relationships with their peers. It also allows teachers to identify developmental issues or mental health problems in students, as well as identifying signs of potential abuse.

UNICEF says extended school closures are resulting in a loss of learning and mental distress, while increasing the risk of students dropping out of education. Fore adds that the youngest children, at critical stages in their learning, will be the worst affected.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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