Children and Poverty in the Era of Covid-19: Impacts and Challenges
An April 15 webinar entitled “Children and Poverty in the Face of Covid-19” was attended by over 300 people from 12 countries. The session was jointly sponsored by Equity for Children and the ARCOR Foundation.
Experts in child development, governmental policy and programming from Argentina, Brazil and the United States joined forces to discuss how children’s lives can be made better during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Participants included Néstor López of IIPE-UNESCO – Argentina, María Teresa Marcilio of AVANTE – Brazil, Alberto Robaina of Inner-City Scholarship Fund – New York and Cristina Fraccia of CAFF – Tigre, Argentina. They addressed the following pressing issues:
- How are disadvantaged families with children dealing with everyday challenges during the pandemic?
- What governmental action can help ensure proper schooling, nutrition and care for children and adolescents?
- How are children without parental supervision coping during Covid-19?
- Are educational systems prepared — or not — for the challenges of remote learning for students at every age?
Alberto Minujin, Executive Director of Equity for Children, started the session and highlighted the importance of “giving voice” to those in need. He pushed for the development of public policy that improves the condition of underserved children.
Javier Rodriguez, Coordinator of Social Investment of the ARCOR Foundation, Argentina, moderated the session. The ARCOR Foundation is dedicated to producing and spreading knowledge geared towards overcoming problems during childhood.
- Covid-19 exposes existing weaknesses in our educational systems. In many ways, Latin America and the U.S. were unprepared for the virtual classroom. At first, schools put hand-washing and other preventive measures in place. Then schools suspended in-person learning. The curricula shifted to accommodate this massive change, reallocating resources to address student need. But it became clear almost immediately that many tools for virtual learning didn’t exist, and that educational continuity demands daily adaptation with a steep learning curve.
- There is ongoing debate now whether to continue using traditional classroom learning while remote or to shift emphasis toward cultural activities, home physical education and fostering the solidarity and empathy that the pandemic is requiring.
- It is essential to revise educational practices in Latin America, which mask inequalities experienced by poor youth. However difficult, we must plan for the transition back to school after the pandemic ends — while this crisis persists.
- The pandemic deepens inequality throughout the world and within our communities. In the United States, the current epicenter of Covid-19, Latino and African-American children are disproportionately affected. Many parents and caretakers work in the severely affected service industries. Some families lack access to technology and internet, making remote learning an aspiration but not a reality. Schools and governments are working hard to identify these issues and rectify them before school terms advance too far.
- In Latin American countries, the pandemic is still not at its peak. It is straining healthcare systems that are extremely precarious.
- In addition to the lack of access to technology in many poor households, domestic violence is on the rise. In countries with extensive inequality, such as Brazil, lack of access to food is developing into another crisis.
- It is crucial to tend to groups that are largely invisible to the public eye, such as children without parental care. Governments currently lack sufficient planning and strategic actions to address these children and their needs.
- Access the full webinar here
- For notes on the debate, Another Coronavirus Pandemic Result: Remote Learning Creates Increased Inequality for Latin American Boys and Girls, click here
- In First Person | Videos by Equity for Children with testimonies by Latin Americans during the pandemic| click here
- ARCOR Foundation https://www.fundacionarcor.org/es
- Equity for Children http://equidadparalainfancia.org/
Vanina Triverio – ARCOR Foundation – www.fundacionarcor.org