While students across the UK returned to school this autumn, we took a look at how back-to-school initiatives are progressing in Africa.
Even before the global pandemic hit, only 17.8% of households in Africa had internet access at home, so the option of home learning was limited. This is one of the reasons why news of back to school plans have been so warmly welcomed.
Kenya’s Education Minister officially stated that schools in Kenya were to reopen on the 12th of October for selected year groups. All students are expected to adhere to the mandatory use of facemasks and monitoring of body temperatures, and where there is no running water, schools will use hand sanitiser. In addition, a section of universities and colleges reopened on 5th October as part of a slow return to higher education.
Although physical distancing remains a challenge, the Kenyan Minister said that this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to keep any child away from school.
It’s good news from Gambia too. The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has declared the opening of secondary schools in the Gambia from the 14th of October, again to selected year groups. Students at primary level and in nursery have also been asked to return to school on the 28th of October, 2020.
In Zambia, the President acknowledged the negative effects closing of schools had on students, acknowledging that the introduction of virtual learning platforms only benefited a few pupils while many were left out. Therefore, under strict health measures, schools resumed school learning from July.
Despite a lot of positivity, across this region nearly 65 million children remain out of school, and around one in two of those are not reached by any form of learning. It’s for this reason that it’s more important than ever we continue to find ways to help children in the most disadvantaged communities gain access to books.