A school year coming to an end under the cloud of COVID-19
While all education experts agree that it is urgent and essential that children across the African continent return to school quickly and safely, education policy makers face the dual challenge of getting children back into school and planning for the long-term consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In West & Central Africa, there was an education crisis even before the coronavirus pandemic. The region has the lowest school enrolment rates in the world. Now, according to Save the Children latest report, Save Our Education, almost 10 million children worldwide may never return to school following Covid-19 lockdown – up to a third of them could be in West & Central Africa.
The tragedy for millions of children is that the COVID19 crisis has come on top of an existing security crisis in the region, as countries across the Sahel were already hit by huge insecurities.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Children’s Education in Africa, a research from Human Rights Watch, shows that school closures exacerbated existing inequalities, while UNICEF’s analysis of the potential reach of remote learning policies indicates that almost 50% of students in WCA were not reached by those policies.
Children living within the poorest and most marginalized communities are thus most at risk of never returning to school, especially refugee girls. Instead they face being forced into child marriage or child labour, and they are at increased risk of having unplanned pregnancies.
As stated in a GPE Blog, “post-COVID education needs to rely on more sustainable and holistic measures that go beyond just accessing education, but also address the obstacles encountered by girls and young women in accessing quality education and completing the school cycle”.
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees