Save the Children calls for governments to address global education crisis

Save the Children New Zealand is joining a global call for leaders to address the worldwide education crisis that has seen hundreds of millions of children shut out of their learning.


More than 1.5 billion learners around the world have had their schools closed due to COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out in early 2020. More than one year on from the outbreak, hundreds of millions of children have still not returned to school, with Save the Children predicting an estimated 10 million children are at risk of never returning.


“For many children already facing systemic barriers to education, such as poverty or discrimination, leaving school means they are likely to drop out forever as they have to work to help supplement the family’s income, or may find themselves forced into marriage,” Save the Children’s Advocacy and Research Director Jacqui Southey says.  


“As governments continue to grapple with the health crisis and vaccine roll out, we’re calling for leaders to help protect a generation of learners by placing education at the top of the agenda.


“Education is a fundamental right. Before COVID-19, education budgets were already declining globally, and we need to ensure that governments don’t deprioritise education further.”

Today, Save the Children is launching ‘100 Days of Action’ – a worldwide callout to leaders to prioritise education and get children safely back to school. As part of this, thousands of children around the world are taking action to fight for their education, including a group of 52 teenage mothers and pregnant girls in Uganda who have successfully appealed to re-enrol in catch-up learning so that they might get the opportunity to return to school, despite barriers like social stigma, lack of childcare or financial support that see many never return to education.

Ms Southey says that while the majority of New Zealand’s tamariki were lucky to have avoided major long-term disruptions to their schooling due to COVID-19, the country is not immune to the barriers that impact children’s education.


Says Ms Southey: “The recent Child Poverty Related Indicators Report revealed the stark impact of poverty on poor education attendance. Children in homes with the lowest incomes regularly attend school just 42% of the time compared to children in the wealthiest homes who report attendance rates of 77%. We urgently need to address this disparity in our education.”