275 world leaders warn of “COVID generation” with no education

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NEW YORK, AUGUST 17 – The former Italian Prime Ministers Romano Prodi and Mario Monti and the former Minister for Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini are among the 275 former world leaders, economists and educationalists who have called on G20 nations and other countries to take action to prevent the global health crisis creating a ‘COVID generation’ – tens of millions of children with no hope of an education.

The leaders – including many presidents, prime ministers and former UN Secretary general Ban Ki moon – say urgent measures are now required and as country lockdowns come to an end, an immediate priority is the fate of 30 million children who, according to a UNESCO report, may never return to school.

In a letter to G20 heads, national governments and global financial institutions, the former leaders also warn that the world’s poorest children have been locked out of learning, denied internet access and, with the loss of free school meals – once a lifeline for 300 million boys and girls – hunger is growing.

The letter states: “We cannot stand by and allow these young people to be robbed of their education and a fair chance in life.” Calling upon all countries “to recognise the scale of the crisis and support three emergency initiatives,” the leaders are also urging the G20 to ramp up funding and ‘rebuild education better’, stating: “The World Bank now estimates that over the next year overall education spending in low and middle-income countries could be $100-150 billion lower than previously planned.” A jointly-authored article by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, Ban Ki-Moon, Graca Machel, Helen Clark former New Zealand PM, and Gordon Brown former UK PM has appeared today on the Project Syndicate website. (@OnuItalia)