The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the key role that education plays in empowering people with the knowledge and skills to work together towards sustainable economic and social development, the highest attainable standards of health and well-being, equality, human rights and global peace. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 is dedicated to the achievement of quality education, aiming to ensure inclusive and equitable education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
COVID-19, however, threatens to reverse the progress made so far on SDG4 and other SDGs and risks harm to a generation of children. The pandemic has had a major impact on the education of Caribbean students, with the closure of education facilities from March 2020 onwards impacting nearly 12 million learners in 29 Caribbean countries. Children from low income or unstable households are more likely to be affected by this separation from their peers and the supportive environment that school provides, further exacerbating educational disparities.
There is a critical need to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on students, both on their academic learning and the psychosocial effects. In particular, this must include students from the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, such as students with disabilities, migrant and refugee students, students from indigenous communities and other groups that already experienced difficulties in accessing education services appropriate to their needs prior to COVID-19. It is equally vital to address the impact of the pandemic on education professionals and to mitigate the risks to health and mental well-being that they face. Assessing these impacts and learning from the many innovations which have been employed in response to the pandemic are important steps towards implementing evidence based strategies for post-COVID-19 recovery and resilience.