(CNN)The world is facing a "generational catastrophe" because of school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday.
We're facing a 'generational catastrophe' in education, UN warns
"Getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority," once local transmission of Covid-19 is under control, he added.
Guterres said that in mid-July, schools were closed in more than 160 countries, affecting over 1 billion students, while at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education in their critical pre-school year.
"We already faced a learning crisis before the pandemic," the Secretary-General said. "Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities."
The knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality, among others, are "deeply concerning," he warned