The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a series of inequalities rise, but one group of people who seem to have been particularly harshly affected are pre-school children.
Fast becoming known as ‘Generation C’ – pre-school children are being deprived of early years education, which extensive research has proven is key in preparing them for primary and secondary schooling and eventually university.
But with parents hesitant to send their children to school and governments focusing more on older students, the Generation C children are fast becoming the biggest victims of the pandemic due to a lifelong impact on their education and well-being.
A study by UNESCO published earlier this year on the right to pre-primary education, found that only 51 of the 193 countries they surveyed have adopted pre-primary education as a compulsory level in national legal frameworks.
“We are concerned about the status of pre-primary education from a legal rights perspective and the fact that too few countries have established pre-primary education as a right,” says Borhene Chakroun, Director of Policy and Lifelong Learning Systems at UNESCO.
Despite the low take-up of legal frameworks, the study shows that enrolment in pre-primary education has been increasing since 1999 worldwide, with an acceleration since 2010. Yet, 1 out of 2 children still does not receive pre-primary education today.
UNESCO stresses early childhood education is increasingly recognized as an essential element in realizing a wide range of educational, social and economic rights. It enables all children, including the most vulnerable, to start school on an equal footing with their peers and improve overall educational achievement and enhance social equity.