“The longer children are away from school, the more difficult it is for them to return,” says Joaquín González-Alemán, UNICEF representative in Ecuador, where more than three million children have fallen into multidimensional poverty. That is, they have been deprived of one or more basic needs such as education, health, food, housing, work or social security due to the effects of the pandemic.
This country, along with Panama and Peru, has kept schools closed for more than a year. This has led to an increase in the vulnerability of children, who by not having access to the shelter provided by school have been exposed to violence, exploitation, child labor and begging. “At school, in some way, they were protected from violence in the home, where 65% of sexual abuse occurs,” explains the humanitarian. Now the challenge, according to UNICEF, is to increase investment in the social protection system to restore the well-being of families and children.