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UNESCO says 850mn students out of school in 102 countries

UNESCO says over 850 million young people, which is about half the world's student population, are out of school due to the closure of schools and universities in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said on Wednesday that 102 countries had closed all their schools, while partial closures were reported in 11 other countries. More closures are to come.

“Over 850 million children and youth, roughly half of the world’s student population, had to stay away from schools and universities,” the UN agency said in a statement.

“This represents more than a doubling in four days in the number of learners prohibited from going to educational institutions,” the statement added, citing figures as of late Tuesday.

UNESCO described the scale and speed of the school and university closures as “an unprecedented challenge for the education sector.”

The organization said some countries were rushing to fill the vacuum by providing real-time video classes and other high-tech solutions, while others were offering classes over television or radio.

“The current situation imposes immense challenges for countries to be able to provide uninterrupted learning for all children and youth in an equitable manner,” it said, noting that it was holding regular virtual meetings with education ministers around the world to find the best solutions and set priorities.

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