UNICEF has expressed concerns that about 430 million children affected by school closures in South Asia due to COVID-19 crisis are now in danger of dropping out of the education system.

In a statement issued in Kathmandu on Monday, the UNICEF said vulnerable and hard to reach children may never return to school if they get further behind due to not being reached with alternative ways to learn during school closures.

The statement urged South Asian countries to develop plans to continue education through a mix of radio, television and mobile technology, as well as the home delivery of printed learning materials for those who are excluded from technology for the most vulnerable students. While most countries in the global north are continuing education at home through online learning, South Asia faces additional challenges due to limited connectivity.

It said only 33 percent of the people in the region had access to the internet. Access to both radio and television was limited in some parts of the region. For example, only 35 percent of rural Nepal had access to television. Children who currently do home learning could also find it hard to get the necessary help if parents were illiterate or did not complete their own education, the statement added.

Both Afghanistan and Nepal have started organizing the home delivery of learning materials to reach the most excluded. Bangladesh is using TV, radio, mobile phone and internet platforms to reach a maximum number of students and make the learning interactive, engaging parents and learners.

UNICEF is working to support governments in the region to ensure that children can continue with their education at home in partnership with other agencies.

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