Nagrik Dialogue

COVID-19 ‘Lockdown Learners’: UNODC’s new initiative promotes Youth Action on SDGs

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis that has affected billions of people around the world so far. All aspects of life and society are impacted by this crisis. In the area of education, for instance, nearly 165 countries have implemented country-wide school and university closures, as indicated by the UN Secretary General in his report entitled “Shared responsibility, global solidarity: responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19”. More than 1.52 billion children and youth are currently out of school or university, representing 87% of the world enrolled school and university student population. In addition, nearly 60.2 million teachers are no longer in the classroom.

This is unprecedented–the world has never seen these many children out of school at the same time. Such lockdowns and school closures can have an adverse impact on children’s education and their mental health, while the risks of exploitation and abuse are higher than ever, for boys and girls alike. There is also a need to sensitize children on emerging issues, such as discrimination, gender-based violence, misinformation and cybercrime, among others.

“UNODC believes that the crisis cannot be overcome without education, in line with the UN’s principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’ and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A key area of focus is on the evolving implications of COVID-19 for children and youth, especially pertaining to human rights, health, peace, security and the rule of law,” said Sergey Kapinos, UNODC Regional Representative for South Asia.

Responding to the global crisis, UNODC—under its flagship Education for Justice Initiative–has launched the “Lockdown Learners” series of online dialogues with students and educators in India on COVID-19 and its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), peace and the rule of law. Through these dialogues, the aim is to sensitize students on concerns of vulnerable groups and emerging issues such as cybercrime, misinformation, gender-based violence, discrimination, and corruption, among others. The Lockdown Learners series also provide a platform for students to receive mentorship and knowledge support through activity-based learning, and use their talent and skills to promote awareness and share their ideas and solutions to address some of these problems.

“Over the last week, educational resources have been shared with partner schools in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, and focused interactions convened with hundreds of students and educators. UNODC welcomes schools to join these efforts in creating a positive framework for students to be productive and engaged during this period of lockdown, reduce stress through positive messaging, and empower young people to become champions of tomorrow,” said Samarth Pathak, UNODC’s Communications Officer for South Asia.

What makes UNODC’s educational products particularly noteworthy is their emphasis on values, on teaching children to think, and on helping them build special empowering skills. These products include free-to-use educational material, comics, board and online games, The Zorbs cartoon series and other modules and videos that may be used by teachers and students at home to develop an understanding on peace and the rule of law.

UNODC believes that respect for human rights and the rule of law must be the fundamental element of youth-focused strategy with evidence-based and balanced responses. In this direction, UNODC’s Education for Justice Initiative – under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration– seeks to prevent crime and promote a culture of lawfulness through education activities designed for primary, secondary and tertiary levels. These activities help educators teach the next generation to better understand and address problems that can undermine the rule of law and encourage students to actively engage in their communities. ***

About UNODC Regional Office for South Asia

UNODC assists Member States in their struggle to combat illicit drugs and international crime. Over the past two decades, the Regional Office for South Asia has been working with governments and civil society in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, providing specialized assistance on challenges pertaining to regional security, crime prevention, justice and health. The commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), human rights and the rule of law is at the core of UNODC’s mandate.

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Mr. Samarth PATHAK |  Email: 

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