The European Union would like to thank the panelists for their contributions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and put unprecedented pressure on education and training systems worldwide and across the Union. It has brought major changes to how we learn, teach, communicate and collaborate within and between our education and training communities. This has had an impact on learners, their families, teachers, trainers, institution leaders, as well as on the broader society. Girls and women have had their right to education particularly affected by the pandemic. The numbers are telling. Large-scale school closures have affected nearly 1.6 billion learners across almost every country in the world. Especially effected were countries without supportive and well-resourced environments. Lack of sufficient digital capabilities became particularly visible and exacerbated the digital divide between students. We remain concerned over the fact that many might never be able to make up this period of lost education.
From the outbreak of the pandemic, Member States and education and training institutions have made significant efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of learners and staff and the continuation of learning and teaching, in order to preserve the right to education. In this regard, we would like to stress that a human rights based approach to COVID response and recovery measures is essential.
Debates as the one we are having today should serve to build more resilient education systems, which are responsive and adaptive to future crises.
With the serious impact on the right to education, strengthening of human rights education is more pertinent than ever. We are wondering how do you see the role of human rights education in "building back better" in the aftermath of the pandemic?