Between February and July 2020, more than 90 percent of school-going children around the world were affected by school closures. Across settings, the crisis is intersecting with entrenched inequities, and COVID-19 related closures and economic instability pose a threat to areas where there has been important, but uneven progress, such as improvements in primary school enrollment and attainment for girls and the narrowing of gender disparities.
The effects of school closures are not limited to education. For example, 74 percent of adolescent girls and boys participating in Population Council Kenya colleagues’ latest round of research in informal settlements in Nairobi reported missing meals that otherwise would have been provided at school before the COVID-19 closures. Even as nearly all adolescent girl participants in both Population Council Kenya's survey and a similar survey by Population Council Bangladesh reported they were trying to continue their studies at home, they also reported challenges in accessing learning materials and and that remote learning sessions were out of reach.
Adolescents need access to resources to continue learning, and policy makers must account for the economic hardship caused by COVID-19 and not penalize the children if households cannot afford to send them back to school.