The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are far wider than the world had expected. They have been felt enormously in the economy and other sectors across the world. One of these is schooling. At...
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are far wider than the world had expected. They have been felt enormously in the economy and other sectors across the world. One of these is schooling. At present, millions of children are out of school because schools in 90 percent of the world’s countries are closed or partially closed. The developed world can turn to online learning, but poorer countries do not have the means and measures to afford this. The result is that children who are no longer going to school are in danger of being pulled into work. This is already happening in Kenya, where children are being drawn into sand mining and in India, where many millions of desperately impoverished families have little choice but to send children to work, carrying plastic carriers in which to collect pieces from the garbage through which they must sift through in order to try and earn a basic living for their families. The same is true in other countries, with girls being forced into sex work in some cases, simply in order to make it possible for families to make ends meet.
The situation is a desperate one and the Malala Fund is among the organisations that have called for help to ensure that girls can continue their education and go back to school once the pandemic is over. The Fund fears that more girls will be kept out of school compared to boys. Currently, 24 million children all over the world as estimated by the UN to be out of school. This is an enormous number, larger than ever seen before on such a global scale. It means that more and more of these children will continue to work while the Covid-19 epidemic lasts in their countries. Some may not be able to return to school even after it ends. It will take families time to get back to a normal existence and children will be the worst sufferers. The UN has appealed to the world to make an effort to ensure that children are able to obtain some learning and go back to school when the institutions reopen. But of course, this advice will not be complied with by all countries and all families. There is too much desperation, and too much at stake. Some families are simply not able to manage schooling any longer given their financial situations.
Alternative measures need to be made, but even those involve resources. And the world is stretched for these at the moment. In the meanwhile, it’s just the children that suffer. In India, small courtyard organisations where young children could gather, receive vaccines and other healthcare have been closed down. We do not know how long the pandemic will last and how many children will survive it in terms of retaining access to schools after it ends.