Coronavirus crisis risks widening educational inequalities among children: NGO

The coronavirus pandemic risks widening inequalities among children in Spain, Ricardo Ibarra, director of Plataforma de Infancia, the Spanish Children’s Rights Coalition, told Xinhua recently.

The lack of resources affects the education of the most disadvantaged children and as a result some of them may abandon their studies, he said.

Interviewed ahead of World Children’s Day, which falls on Nov. 20, Ibarra explained that although the situation of children in Spain is “generally good,” “there are high levels of inequality (and) we can’t guarantee that some children have the same opportunities as others.”

The 2019 Life Conditions Survey published by the Spanish Statistical Office (INE) in June 2020 showed that 30.3 percent of all children in the country were at risk of exclusion due to economic problems.

Ibarra explained that the coronavirus pandemic has denied the most disadvantaged children the chance to continue their studies as the country’s schools were closed between mid-March and September.

“Spain was not ready to switch to digital education from one day to another because the teachers were not prepared and didn’t have the tools to do that,” he commented, adding that 44 percent of the country’s families live on low income and do not have access to a computer at their residence.

“Around a million children don’t have either a computer or access to the internet at home or they have to share those with their parents,” stressed Ibarra.

The Plataforma de Infancia explains in a press release that economic need is a reason behind 17.3 percent of Spanish children abandoning their studies before getting any qualifications. This is the highest rate in Europe and “this is concentrated among children from the most economically disadvantaged social strata,” it states, adding the pandemic has “made this situation worse.”

“We need to remember the children who missed out on education during confinement and carry out specific programs against them abandoning education so those children can catch up with the education they missed by being out of the system,” said Ibarra.