The United Nations and World Bank called for school reopenings despite coronavirus risks in a new report, stressing children in poor countries are severely affected by pandemic due to an absence of the access to digital means to pursue learning.

Children in impoverished countries have been deprived of close to four months of schooling since the pandemic began early this year, while pupils in rich nations benefiting from remote learning have lost six weeks, the report said. “Prioritising reopening schools and providing much-needed catch-up classes are critical,” said Robert Jenkins, education chief at the UN children’s fund UNICEF. “We don’t need to look far to see the devastation the pandemic has caused to children’s learning across the world,” he added in a statement.

In an interview published earlier this month, the World bank head expressed concern about the pandemic on children’s education. World Bank President David Malpass said 1 billion kids in developing nations may be out of school due to pandemic. A similar warning was also issued last month by the United Nations where it warned that at least 24 million students across the world could drop out of school as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak. In order to curb the rising spread of coronavirus, Germany and France were bracing for new lockdowns.

The crisis is worse in low and middle-income nations due to a frail system of distance learning, higher probability of a delay in reopening of schools and a lack of resources to tackle health risks. UN cultural agency UNESCO and the World Bank also advised countries to spend money on education to reduce the broadening gap between the education provided in rich and poor nations due to Covid-19 pandemic.  The report from UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Bank was based on data accumulated from about 150 countries between June and October.

As of now, the European governments are determined to keep the schools open even during the ongoing second wave of the pandemic. Why have they desperately reopened the schools? The answer lies in the study released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last month. The study says the world will see a 1.5% drop in economic output for the rest of this century for skill loss due to pandemic-induced disruption in schooling. Bangladesh will not be spared from the colossal damage to future skills inflicted by the prolonged closure of educational institutions.

Although no study has so far been carried out to assess the loss in monetary value, educationists and economists believe the damage would be huge, to be carried forward from generation to generation, as most of the students are actually away from books. Recorded classes through television and radio have failed to reach most students. “The present generation will be affected immediately, and even their children will also be victims of the pandemic. As a result, the rest of the years of this century will have to bear the cost of unskilled generation,” Professor Emeritus of Brac University Dr Manzoor Ahmed told this newspaper last month when his attention was drawn to the OECD study.