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Angelina Jolie issued a warning about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children who have been unable to go to school due to lockdowns.
The actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian called for action on the issue of distance learning during a round-table event for UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The special envoy for UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, warned that COVID-19 has caused disruptions to education that could leave lasting effects on children.
“Children in all countries are struggling with the effects of COVID-19. An entire generation of children have had their education severely disrupted — over a billion children worldwide,” Jolie, who was part of the virtual round-table on education for refugees, said on Monday.
“We’re meeting today to discuss how to prevent this disruption from becoming permanent for millions of refugee children,” she continued, adding that refugee children were “twice as likely” as other children to be out of school even before the global pandemic.
We must ensure #LearningNeverStops for refugees!
Join our Live event gathering experts & students today at 2pm GMT, moderated by Angelina Jolie, @Refugees‘ Special Envoy.
Watch on YouTube: https://t.co/OAxkqW9AdZ
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) July 13, 2020
Jolie noted that while there are many new technologies that support the distance learning of students while the physical schools are closed, there are many children who do not have access to the tools needed, such as computers internet service and even, simply, television and radio.
She also pointed out other factors that affect children’s ability to learn, such as hunger, and cited a study to note how many children may never get back to a classroom again.
In other comments, Jolie reportedly called for “practical assistance” in getting access to education for vulnerable students.
“For millions of children and youth, schools are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield. Classrooms offer protection — or at least a reprieve — from violence, exploitation and other difficult circumstances,” she contended, according to Daily Mail.
“Without urgent practical assistance, some of the children left without schooling worldwide due to the coronavirus may never set foot in a classroom again. We must find ways to try to ensure access to continuity of education for young people across the world,” Jolie added.
The 45-year-old Academy Award-winning actress shares six children with actor Brad Pitt. The couple married in 2014 and split in a divorce two years later.
In the U.S., President Trump has been vocally advocating for the reopening of schools, even as his critics continue to slam him for the very idea.
“We are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open and it’s very important and it’s very important for our country and for the well-being of the student and the parents,” the president said.
Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also threatened to cut off federal funding for schools if they don’t reinstate in-person classes this fall.
Fox News host Steve Hilton called for Americans to demand a tax refund if schools do not reopen in the fall during a monologue on “The Next Revolution” on Sunday.
“This is not safe. It’s harming our children,” he said, noting the mental and emotional toll the school closures have taken on children.
Fired-up Steve Hilton calls for parents to sue, govt to refund taxpayers if schools don’t reopen https://t.co/RcGZR67CaJ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 13, 2020
“The evidence is piling up that remote learning doesn’t work especially for the poorest families and those in rural areas with unreliable Internet. And perhaps worst of all, we see reports of a rise in child abuse. Beyond the impact on children, there is the impact on our economy. If kids cannot go to school, parents cannot go to work,” Hilton said.
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