Sub-Saharan Africa: Children

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the closure of schools and related school feeding programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa on (a) girls and (b) all children in that region.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The education of over 1.3 billion children in over 150 countries has been disrupted since COVID-19 struck, including many across Sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that 10 million children may never return to school, and past evidence suggests the majority will be girls.

The effects of school closures go beyond the millions of hours of lost learning. School-based nutrition programmes provide a key safety net for many children and families and help keep children - particularly girls - in school. School closures also increase the risk of child labour, neglect, violence and sexual abuse.

In response, the UK has taken decisive action. We have adapted our bilateral education programmes in 18 countries to provide child protection, learning continuity, safe reopening of schools. As the largest donor to the Global Partnership for Education we have helped establish a dedicated $500 million COVID-19 accelerated funding window to maintain basic education. We have topped up our contribution to the global fund for Education in Emergencies to which we are also the largest donor, which includes support for school feeding programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa including in Burkina Faso, Niger, DRC, Mali, Uganda and Somalia.

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