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The Pandemic has Brought to the Fore Systemic Deficiencies Affecting Children’s Education

Like millions of other children, Mia Sulastri has been putting in extra effort to keep up with her studies. When her school in Indonesia closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 17-year-old travelled 24 kilometres by motorbike, four times a week, to…
Children attending class on the first day of school, which was damaged by an airstrike during fighting between Saudi-led coalition-backed government forces and Houthi forces, Taizz, Yemen, September 3, 2019. © 2019 Ahmad al-Basha/AFP/Getty Images
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I’ve spent most of my career talking to parents who moved heaven and earth to get their children an education. There was the mother from Mogadishu, Somalia, who told me she gave thanks every afternoon when her children returned safely…
A young girl wearing a face mask holds up a cell phone
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Susan Robinson, a 68-year-old resident of a United States nursing facility, was lying awake one night in March when she heard her neighbor gasping for breath. “She was dying,” Robinson said. “They took her to the hospital. They didn’t tell us anything…
Caterina Salvi, 90, waits for a visitor inside a protective inflatable plastic tunnel at the Martino Zanchi nursing home in Alzano Lombardo, northern Italy, February 24, 2021.
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On Human Rights Day, Celebrating People Who Make the World Better

This Human Rights Day I’m celebrating my sister’s commitment to lifting up the lives of girls and giving them a chance at realizing their potential. I think of my sister Vicky as a warrior in the fight for human rights, and on December 10, I’m…
Vicky, a teacher in a girls’ school in Kenya, is dedicated to empowering girls. 
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Harms Girls and Reduces Nation's Potential

"I didn't go back to school, because I didn't have anyone to give me advice," "Harriet" told me. "I wish someone would've come to talk to me about school and encourage me." We were sitting in   her brother's home in Migori county, western…
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Graduating into a global pandemic was never going to be easy. But for some in the high school class of COVID-19, their academic futures were further jeopardized by a predictive algorithm that assigned them final grades without explanation or means…
Students walk along a corridor at a school for girls in the U.K. that offers the International Baccalaureate program.
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"I loved school," said 11-year-old Radwan. "I liked to study math, and I miss going to school very much." Radwan could be any one of the more than 1.5 billion students whose schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he is not. Radwan is…
Rohingya refugee students demonstrate against being expelled from Bangladeshi secondary schools in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, February 6, 2019.
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President Jair Bolsonaro has been peddling the myth that only older people are at risk from Covid-19. At the same time, he has repeatedly dismissed their needs. His  disinformation and callous remarks about the country’s 28 million people over 60…
A Zapotec woman washes her hands after learning from a local radio program about hand-washing and social distancing to avoid COVID-19, in Oaxaca state, Mexico, March 31, 2020.
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And the steps African governments can and must take to mitigate it.

Abigail*, a young woman who lives in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare became pregnant by a much older married man when she was 14. She had left school because her mother couldn’t afford to pay for her fees, books and other school supplies. Her mother was…
School closed in Nairobi, Kenya
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Every day for more than two years, Mae has brought breakfast and dinner to her husband, Dean, 75, (not their real names) in his aged care facility in their town in Northern Queensland. Dean has dementia and Mae sits with him for hours, encouraging…
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UNESCO reports that 119 countries have closed schools nationwide since the COVID-19 outbreak, disrupting the learning and education of an estimated 897 million students. Millions more could be affected as more countries order school closures.…
An empty classroom in Senegal
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With Millions Out of School, the Countdown Begins to Get All Children into Quality, Accessible Education

  In 2018, about 260 million children and youth did not go to school, according to data collected by the United Nations. That’s one in every five worldwide. And 617 million youth worldwide lacked basic mathematics and literacy skills…
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“Azida” is a 12-year-old girl, born in Myanmar, but now growing up in neighboring Bangladesh. Forced out of her home at age 10 by a military campaign of ethnic cleansing, she now lives in the sprawling Cox’s Bazar refugee camps on the southern…
Posters inside a “learning center”
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As we approach the last days of the decade, it’s important to reflect on the fight for human rights, the setbacks and successes over the past year in Australia and around the world. Our list isn’t ranked, and far from exhaustive – we…
A Uighur woman picking up school children rides past a picture showing China's President Xi Jinping joining hands with a group of Uighur elders at the Unity New Village in Hotan, in western China's Xinjiang region.
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This year I have interviewed dozens of people who have told me how aged care facilities drugged their parents, grandparents, husbands, wives and neighbours. We’d sit down in someone’s home, or in an advocacy group’s meeting space, or in a coffee shop, and…
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