Latin America's children face major education setbacks from COVID-19: UNICEF

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Latin American children have lost four times more days of education from the coronavirus pandemic than students in the rest of the world, a UNICEF report on Monday showed, with over 137 million young people in the region still not back at school.

Latin America has been hard hit by COVID-19, with more than 11.6 million cases and over 400,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. The United Nations children’s agency found that the region’s children had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“While  schools are gradually reopening in several parts of the world,  the vast majority of  classrooms  are still  closed across the region,” it said. “ Over one-third of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have yet to  set  a date for school reopening.”

The report also found that COVID-19 was likely to exacerbate sky-high inequality and push more children out of formal education. With many in the region studying from home, a lack of technology infrastructure, such as tablets and computers, meant many children were likely to drop out of school.

“The economic impact of  this education  crisis will be felt for years to come,” the report said.

Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Peter Cooney