How Covid is affecting girl-child education

Tuesday February 23 2021
letter01pix
By Guest Writer

By March 2020, most countries all over the world had shut down  all their learning institutions in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that had eventually started in China. This closure disrupted millions of learner. The essence was to keep them safe and secure.

Although the countries looked at keeping the learners home in order for them to be secure, schools have for long been a safe haven of vulnerable girls.

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, at least 98 million adolescent girls worldwide were already not attending school, meaning that the closure of the learning institutions has worsened the situation.
 
Many of them have been subjected to early childhood marriage, early pregnancy, child labour, domestic violence and gender-based violence as a way of surviving the deadliest disease that has killed more than 300 people, leaving relatives and children so traumatised.

Amid all the challenges government is going through, it has been able to continue implement online studying to keep the learners engaged.

The programme has, however, partially benefited a few learners in towns and other urban settlements  where there has been access to the TVs, Internet, personal computers and other reading materials such as newspapers.

This has created a wide gap between the learners in urban centres and their counterparts in rural areas, who have not been able to receive the same learning materials and facilitation.

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This is creating learning inequalities that contradict the second Goal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aims at achieving Universal Primary Education by 2030.

The government has also been able to reopen schools with candidate classes, including P7, S4 and S6 on September 15, 2020 that are yet to do their final exams.

And as it is planning to reopen schools again for semi- candidate classes (P6, S3, and S5) on March 1, it should also consider other learners, especially girls in rural areas, who have been used as domestic workers and other labour that may hinder them from attaining education once school resumes for all students.

Therefore, the government, policy makers and other relevant people need to offer emotional, psychosocial and financial  support, guidance and counselling to the learners as well as their parents so that they can be able to take their children back to school to compensate for the lost time.
 
Besides, hope should also be given, especially to the girls, who had lost ambitions of being in school again, so that they can change their minds.
 
Parents, too, should help their children to stick to the learning process as a way of easing the teachers work.

Teachers  are planning to catch up with the syllabus.
This can be achieved through having open conversations with children to ascertain what worries them most and letting them know that it is absolutely normal to feel anxious.

Parents should also endeavour to create a bond that can enable them to talk to their children about some of the changes that are likely to be found at school such as observance of standard operating procedures (SOPs), including wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser.

Learners need to be told and assured that observing SOPs is meant to keep students, the teachers and workers healthy and safe from contracting or spreading Covid-19 virus.

Hildah Nsimiire,
hildansimiire@gmail.com

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