Covid19: Philippines facing ‘learning crisis’, says Unicef

Petronilo Pacayra signs school documents with his children aged nine and 10, in Quezon City. Photograph: Jam Sta Rosa/AFP/Getty Images

Classrooms in the Philippines were silent on Monday as millions of schoolchildren hunkered down at home for the second year of remote lessons.  Now experts fear, it will worsen an educational “crisis”.

  • While nearly every country in the world has partially or fully reopened schools to in-person classes, the Philippines has kept them closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN says.
  • Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has so far rejected proposals for a pilot reopening of primary and secondary schools for fear children could catch Covid-19 and infect elderly relatives.
  • More than 80% of parents are worried their children “are learning less”, said Isy Faingold, Unicef’s education chief in the Philippines, citing a recent survey.
  • Scotland’s first minister has ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on independence until all day-to-day Covid restrictions are lifted. Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly pledged to hold another poll by the end of 2023, but only if the public health crisis is over.
  • In Iraq, it has received a donation of more than 100,000 AstraZeneca doses from Italy via the Covid-19 vaccine-sharing scheme Covax, according to Unicef. More than 4 million people, around 10% of Iraq’s population, have already received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab.
  • Moreover, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has purchased 500,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine from Denmark.
  • Meanwhile, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday announced plans to introduce Covid-19 “vaccine passports” amid widespread skepticism of the jab, ahead of an easing of movement restrictions this week, AFP reports.

After sluggish vaccine procurement and a delayed rollout, Africa’s worst-hit country for Covid is struggling with low take-up, particularly among men.