Mortgage the future or wash your hands? - Plataforma Media

Mortgage the future or wash your hands?

We are a month away from the reopening of schools in Portugal and there are still many doubts about the next school year.

In “normal” years, parents, teachers and students already live with great nervousness the announcement of new routines. Now, this is the year of the “doom of the new pandemic”, it will be even more complicated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF revealed this week that 43% of schools worldwide do not have access to basic hygiene conditions like water and soap to wash their hands.

This means that practically two out of five schools are not prepared to guarantee minimums in combating Covid-19. They cannot even fulfill the essential measures to allow schools to reopen in a pandemic context.

This fragility is particularly felt in Africa, where a third of children live who should spend their days learning, but does not have a place with hygienic conditions where they can do it. In that continent alone, there are 295 million children who attend schools who do not have weapons to fight the disease.

Failure to return to school would mean that we are mortgaging the future with very negative consequences in the medium and long term. I hope that the governments of the world do not wash their hands from there …


The numbers – and the statistics – are almost always cold and “calculating”, but in this case they also scare and embarrass. Worldwide, according to WHO and UNICEF, there are 818 million children at increased risk of contracting Covid-19 and other communicable diseases.

In least developed countries seven out of ten schools lack basic hand hygiene conditions. In addition, half of the schools lack sanitation and access to water.

I recently heard Marçal Grilo, a former minister of education and a man we get used to respecting whenever he talks about teaching, explaining that the return to classes of thousands of students in Portugal is just as important as the operation of hospitals, companies – namely the food business – or food supply chains, fuel and other conditions that allow us to live within a certain “comfortable abnormality”

Marçal Grilo underlined an idea: not returning to school would mean that we are mortgaging the future with very negative consequences in the medium and long term. I hope that the governments of the world do not wash their hands from there …

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