Outgoing President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande has highlighted some critical lessons from COVID-19.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria in New York that the pandemic had further underscored the need for concerted efforts to bridge the global technological gap.
Muhammad-Bande referenced a UN report indicating that 463 million schoolchildren, mostly from developing countries, lack access to remote learning.
The report says the number represents nearly a third of the world’s 1.5 billion school children forced to stay at home following the closure of their schools due to COVID-19.
Muhammad-Bande said the situation was particularly painful to him because inclusive quality education is one of the priorities of his presidency.
“Education, especially learning in schools, has virtually stopped for many because of lack of access to the technologies needed for remote instruction to take place.
“It, therefore, means that all has to be done to make technologies widely available to all parts of the world for critical things like education and agriculture.
“In reconstructing their educational infrastructure, countries should learn from what technology can offer.
“You must leverage technology not as an aside but as an integral element’’.
The second lesson from the COVID-19 crisis, according to the PGA, is the connectedness of societies, making a problem in one corner of the world a global one.
This, he said, explains why a disease that broke out in a Chinese town became a global epidemic within a few months with devastating health and socio-economic impacts.
Muhammad-Bande, who is Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said with this lesson, the world should ensure inclusion in both responses to COVID-19 and recovery efforts.
“We should not joke with this notion that if a vaccine is available and one country is left out, no country is free.
“You can see the issue of climate change, how a reduction in the use of fossil fuels has been positive in many parts of the in terms of quality of air, regeneration of plants, among others.
“Again, can we find a means of doing things differently? This is a critical question that must be addressed by countries in terms of policies,’’ he said.