Open our schools!

In Zambia all schools had to close in March following instructions from the president. It was announced just before the first cases of Covid-19 in the country were reported. We have now completed a full term from home (with only exam classes back at schools from 1 of June). For my children that’s in a well organised private school. The majority of children in Zambia that attend public/ government run schools have had no access to any form of education from home, and have instead been left unsupervised as parents go out to look for work. In the poor areas the children are left looking after young siblings or playing in the streets. I’ve noticed an increase of children begging for money at the traffic lights and children going around selling snacks. The purpose of closing schools was obviously to try and stop the spread of Covid-19 but when parents still have no choice but to jump on packed buses and go into crowded markets to make a living what is the gain by keeping the children out of school? Especially as the children are not sitting at home. Many countries have noted an increase in domestic abuse, this does not exclude children. Teenage pregnancies will most likely go up as well as drug abuse amongst teenagers with nothing better to do. WHO is now urging African countries to safely open schools as the dangers by staying out of schools may outweigh the risks of getting Covid-19. In two weeks time schools are du to start term 3, at this point the silence from our government is loud. Schools need to plan ahead, either for a safe reopening or a continuation of online/home learning (which is a challenge even for the most organised school with some schools seeing a sharp decrease in engagement from pupils) as of now nobody knows which direction we are heading. Covid-19 is going to be around for a long time, we can’t sit and wait for it to magically disappear. We can’t afford to write 2020 off, life needs to go on even under the circumstances of “the new normal”. Open our schools!

Read the article from WHO here: https://www.afro.who.int/news/who-unicef-urge-safe-school-reopening-africa


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