The countries in the East Asia and Pacific region were the first to be impacted by COVID-19 and the ensuing major public health emergency caused by the pandemic. This situation has affected education provision in all of the 27 countries supported by UNICEF programmes since late January 2020. The rapidity and global scale of the educational disruption was unparalleled. By the end of March 2020, all countries in the region have closed schools, affecting the education of over 325 million children.
National health and education systems are facing the challenge to provide continued learning opportunities in the places where schools have closed and to protect students upon school reopening. With strict quarantine measures decreasing new cases of COVID-19, countries gradually started to reopen schools in April and May. By the end of July 2020, most countries have started school reopening with the exception of Cambodia, Mongolia and the Philippines. In most countries, learning after school reopening follows a blended learning approach in order to follow distancing rules and protect children and teachers in schools.
New COVID-19 cases and hotspots in countries, which seemed to have successfully managed to control the spread of COVID19 including China, Malaysia and Viet Nam, resulted in temporary and local school closures. The secondary impacts of the crisis, and especially the economic and financial fallout, are expected to negatively impact the education system in the mid- and longterm and put education gains achieved pre-COVID-19 at risk.
As of mid of August, 23 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region have started the gradual reopening of schools. All or a majority of schools reopened in 20 countries in the region providing renewed access to education to around 276 million children (see Figure 1). At the same time, schools in 4 countries remain fully closed negatively impacting learning continuity for more than 33 million children. 3 countries have only partially reopened schools for safety considerations and due to variations in case incidences across geographic areas. Indonesia for example opened schools in districts identified as low risk only. All schools were closed early in DPRK (see Figure 3).
Schools are expected to reopen in Cambodia, Mongolia and the Philippines in the second half of the year.
Schools are currently closed in some countries for term breaks for example in China, Viet Nam and some Pacific Island countries.
Source: UN Children’s Fund