Over 40 million students affected by school closures, globally
Bangladesh is the only country in South Asia and one of only 14 globally that have kept schools fully closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a UN report issued in August.
The school closure in the country was also the longest in the world, jointly with Venezuela, at 61 weeks, said the report prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Amid warnings from experts that children are losing interest in learning with schools now shut for almost a year and half, the government on Sunday decided to reopen all educational institutions on September 12, except universities.
As many as 53% of countries decided to reopen schools before Bangladesh, the Unesco report said.
In terms of length of school closure, Bangladesh and Venezuela were followed by Honduras (59 weeks), Kuwait (57 weeks), Panama (55 weeks) and Mexico (53 weeks).
In South Asia, Sri Lanka has had the second-longest school closure of 46 weeks, and they are yet to decide on reopening.
Neighboring India has kept schools partially open for 44 weeks, with only 25 weeks of full closure during the pandemic.
So far, about 40 million students have been affected by the pandemic-enforced closures, globally. They include 17.34 million students at primary schools.
These students have missed out on the opportunity to receive proper learning and interact with their peers, which has affected their education experience, the Unesco report said.
Prof Shaikh Ekramul Kabir, a member of the Education Policy-2010 formulation committee, welcomed the government's decision to reopen educational institutions.
“However, we have to ensure the health safety of students, teachers, and other staff,” he added.
He also pointed out that Bangladesh did continue academic activities on a limited scale during the school closure.