Covid-19 is here! If you weren’t affected by it in one way or another, then you possibly live on another planet. As a school support organization, our funding was heavily affected. This only meant that we could only look on as the pandemic ravaged communities and disorganized the education system in an unprecedented way. For a year now, none of our projects could run due to logistical challenges.
For Cherie Wilshire Foundation and our beneficiaries, this is a very complicated situation just as it is for other. As much as our supported children have been largely exposed to different challenges while at home, returning to school presents risks of its own. We have watched as other countries open schools and then another wave of infection forces them to close. If the situation worsens, then we shall have a big problem.
Schools have been closed for some time and we are concerned as to how prepared and serious they are with observing the SOPs. The move to reopen risks a new spike in infections, as young people and teachers mix together.
. However, we need to see our children progressing as far as acquiring knowledge is concerned. When Covid-19 cases were few, the government closed schools. Now that they are increased, the government has decided to reopen schools in phased manner. According to the Ministry’s schedule, the semi-candidate classes of Primary six, Senior three, Senior five and semi-finalist will report on 1st march and study for 14 weeks, breaking of on May 21.
Reopening schools has been received with mixed feelings from students, parents and other educationists. Most of the students are so eager and excited to resume school. Some say the long break has been nice, but sometimes boring. Others have many worries due to their home environments and the education uncertainties. In spite of being exposed to e-learning and self-studies, they have been missing the physical value their teachers offer as well as interactions with their colleagues.
Some parents are also worried about their non and semi candidate leaners and students who do not know their fate and when they will go to schools since the academic year was interrupted by the lockdown. Delayed school reopening has escalated the already existing trend of low and declining learning outcomes especially in government schools.
Many girls are left vulnerable to teenage pregnancy, early childhood marriage, defilement and gender based violence and other devastating effects of lockdown in Uganda . We need to have a recognized need for increased engagement with adolescent girls in their communities.
Increase in child abuse cases , this lockdown has exposed children to more sexual, physical and emotional , physical abuse and neglect. This is likely to have a long lasting psychological effects on children we need to come up with studies on childrens mental health as compared with adults especially in rural areas.
Redundancy of some children during this period has subjected them to bad habits which has changed their emotional state and behavior. Some parents have been so lenient in safeguarding their children which has given children a room to associate with peers , young children are turning into chain smokers, criminals in the societies. We need to come up with a strategic approach of rehabilitating these children.
Increased cases of child labour mostly in urban areas. Ever since the lockdown was imposed in Uganda some parents lost their daily jobs and most family became vulnerable which has forced even children to start supporting families , most children are seen vending on streets, grazing animals and left with no time to read and revise what they studied at school.
There have been reports that many government and private schools across the country are undergoing financial distress. In July, the proprietors of Najjeera Progressive School with 500 students announced they had decided to close it after 32 years of existence:
In conclusion, the covid 19 pandemic and associated closure of schools has really created new challenges for education systems and learners lives in Uganda. As stakeholders in the education we need to extra effort to make sure that children of Uganda continue learning amidst this prolonged Covid 19 pandemic.