As many as 1.5 million schools remained shut during 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdowns, impacting 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in India, according to data released by UNICEF Wednesday.

“Online education is not an option for all as only one in four children has access to digital devices and Internet connectivity. Pre-Covid, only a quarter of households (24 per cent) in India had access to the Internet and there is a large rural-urban and gender divide,” says the UNICEF statement, raising concerns on a higher dropout rate in schools once classes recommence.

The data released by UNICEF notes that more than 888 million children worldwide continue to face disruptions to their education due to full and partial school closures. The analysis of school closure reports notes that 14 countries worldwide have remained largely closed since March 2020 to February 2021. Two-thirds of those countries are in Latin America and the Caribbean, affecting nearly 98 million schoolchildren.

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