An immediate concern, as we bring the lockdown to an end, is the fate of an estimated 30 million children who according to UNESCO may never return to school. For these, the world’s least advantaged children, education is often the only escape from poverty – a route that is in danger of closing."
(Letter by 275 global leaders directed to the G20, IMF, World Bank, Regional Development Banks, and national governments)
Currently, there are more than 1.5 million non-state schools in low and medium-income countries. Most are operated by sole proprietors, not school chains, and nearly all of them have faced months-long closures due to the pandemic. While government schools will face tremendous challenges upon reopening, they have confidence that they will, indeed, reopen. Affordable non-state schools, on the other hand, are not so lucky. They require cash flows to remain in operation—and without students in classrooms, that income has dried up.
In short, affordable non-state schools, benefiting millions of children, may be forced to permanently shut their doors.
The impact these closures would have on students would be huge. Over 400 million children rely on non-state schools for their education, which is central to children’s future success; the longer they stay in school, the greater their earning potential, health, and opportunities. We also know from past crises that once students leave school, it is difficult to get them to return, even when the school reopens.
How we are continuing to support schools
Our Education Finance programme remains focused on helping school leaders mitigate these very real risks - avoiding permanent school closures and ensuring children return to school. We are working to help schools engage the wider community and reopen successfully.
- Our teams are providing schools with new 'deep dive' content on essential school reopening planning. Many schools report being overwhelmed by the requirements being published by governments, and global guides are often not contextualised for our schools' needs. Our new 'deep dive' resources include a focus on engaging 'hard to reach' parents, and clear steps to implement safety procedures that may be required by governments before schools can reopen.
- Our Technical Assistance Advisors and Education Specialist teams are also partnering with financial institutions working to support and engage their school borrowers during this period.
Despite these challenging times, we remain committed to supporting communities in providing good quality accessible education to those who need it most.