Source: Save The Children
Throughout the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to close. A lack of inclusive, effective distance learning has affected hundreds of millions of children around the world.
Save the Children has estimated that at least 10 million of the most vulnerable children may never return to school. Not only does this mean that children will not be learning, but that they are unable to get the school meals they depend on or other essential services that protect children and keep them safe. In the long term, this will result in a greater inequity for those already at a disadvantage.
The pandemic has also significantly restricted children’s already limited access to places where decisions are made and to the people that make those decisions. Children must have a say in their futures. Leaders can’t just listen to adults when it comes to education, but must hear directly from the children themselves – they are the experts about their lives and they know what matters to them.
This is why we invited children to take part in the Draw Your Future project. Children from around the world sent us their comic strips showing their hopes and dreams for their future lives – futures that wouldn’t be possible without a quality education.
Children from Colombia, Italy, Nigeria, Georgia, the US and beyond sent us their comics. Some want to be vets, others nuclear scientists. Many want to travel abroad and explore the world. They told us that they just want to do something they can be proud of. Children don’t want good jobs because of the potential for a high salary – their dream futures involve doing something positive for the world, something that they love doing.
Wendy, 16, lives in Colombia. She drew her comic strip to show how important education is to her and says that education improves “our lives, growth, and mental and personal development”. She’s been learning online but knows that many students aren’t able to access virtual learning and COVID-19 “has made it difficult for all of us.”
“I’d like people to see my comic book and be inspired by those who have lost their love of studying and to see it motivate them and keep them going. That they do not see the study as a problem but as a challenge that in the end we have to win and come out triumphant”
Wendy’s comic: “The importance of education”
Alex, 13, also lives in Colombia. He says education is very important as it is “the foundation of what I can become as a professional. Studying allows me to look beyond my community to learn and contribute to it. If I move forward, my family and those around me will too.”
Alex’s comic: “Moments in an exam”
Children like Alex and Wendy know how important it is to get a good education – not just for themselves, but their peers, family and community. These children deserve a voice and a space in which to bring their concerns and ideas to politicians.
That’s why we have sent the comics to key decision makers directly ahead of the Global Education Meeting this week. The meeting will see government ministers and financial institutions come together, and could be a critical moment for them to agree on how they will take measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on children’s learning and wellbeing.
Children are demanding that governments urgently prioritise education. Together with them, we are calling on them to re-commit to Sustainable Development Goal 4 and to make financial commitments that will ensure education is properly funded as we build back from COVID-19. They must give the most vulnerable children that have been so harshly impacted by the pandemic another chance.
Children like Alex and Wendy are demanding that politicians take action to save their education and help them achieve their dreams. We are supporting them to get their voices heard where and when it matters – the future of a generation depends on it.
Save Our Education is our global campaign, which urgently calls on world leaders to agree and fully fund a global COVID-19 education action plan that focuses on tangible action over the next 12-18 months, particularly on ensuring all children return to school and are supported to catch up on their lost learning. Read the full Save Our Education report here.