Around the world, Covid-19 has closed schools and universities. It has emptied offices, hotels, stadiums, cafes, museums and cinemas – almost everywhere we used to gather.
It has disrupted not only the education of our children and youth but also the work of those who teach them, and the livelihoods of the parents who do everything they can to pay for books, uniforms and school journeys.
For many refugee children, the vast majority of whom live in the developing world, the coronavirus has added new challenges to lives already torn apart by conflict and persecution. Many of them may never return to school. Hard-won gains, built up slowly and patiently over decades, risk being reversed indefinitely. Young lives could be ruined forever.
I became the ambassador for the Instant Network Schools (INS) programme only days before the coronavirus pandemic radically altered our everyday lives. Delivered in partnership with Vodafone Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the INS connects thousands of refugee and host-country students to a quality digital education.
Part of my new role was intended to include visiting the schools supported by the INS programme to raise awareness of the vital importance of quality education for refugee children. Like many other people’s travel plans, mine will have to change.