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Freeze! Can you hear the school bell ringing?


The first day of school is a milestone in a child’s life – a joyful day full of hope and possibilities. Due to COVID-19, this unique moment has been “indefinitely postponed” for 140 million first-time students around the world. This month the school bell did not ring in many schools. 18 months into the pandemic, nearly 77 million students worldwide are still out of classrooms.


On 16 September, the European External Action Service is joining UNICEF’s advocacy mobilisation to tackle the education crisis by participating in the digital disruption campaign – “The freeze”. In coordination with UNICEF, we are “freezing” content across social media channels to send one message to the world:  safe access to education cannot wait.

Today’s digital disruption is the high point of a month-long advocacy push for schools’ safe reopening. It aims to create a “shock factor” to raise awareness and prevent this education crisis from becoming an education catastrophe. Powerful messaging on global channels will continue throughout the UN General Assembly week to maintain momentum and mobilise renewed support.

All children have the right to quality education that equips them with the skills they need for life. However, for at least a third of the world’s schoolchildren, remote learning is simply out of reach. In many places, schools are much more than a space for learning. It is the place where vulnerable children have access to safety, food and health care. The increase in domestic violence, child marriage, child labour, mental health issues, to mention but a few, are the unspoken consequences of schools closure in the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are facing a global education emergency with far-reaching and long- lasting implications on children, parents and teachers, communities, workplaces, and national economies.

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