In many ways, a return to learning is vital. Though certain grades are already back in session, many are not. Around 80% of African children don’t have access to the internet. Without in-person classes, school simply isn’t possible for the majority. In addition, closed schools compound other issues, such as early marriages.
However, reopening schools brings a new set of challenges.
Financial and Facility Challenges
Joy Mueller of Kenya Hope explains that for many schools the government regulations will prove incredibly challenging.
“The government is requiring quite a few things from the schools in Kenya. There needs to be multiple hand washing stations, but there is no real running water [at many] schools. Hand sanitizers [and] masks need to be provided, [too],” she explains.
In addition to these requirements, students must practice social distancing, a daunting task for schools that already must cope with too many students for the space they have.
While facility challenges are great, Mueller says the bigger issue is a lack of funding.
“The government is putting these requirements on the schools, but they’re not offering financial assistance to help them implement these new regulations. Also, because of the markets and economic closures during COVID, a lot of families are really hurting financially. [Many] don’t have the funds to pay the school fees,” she says.
This financial toll remains the primary way COVID-19 has impacted rural Kenyan communities, as few people have become infected with the virus. As schools look to reopen, Kenya Hope plans to lessen the economic burden for schools where possible.
“Kenya Hope is stepping up and trying to provide the different things that [the schools] need, hand washing stations, hand sanitizer, and even textbooks,” Mueller says.
Help and Hope
“To help these schools be effective, [we need to] provide them with the things being required of them so that they can operate safely and so that the government won’t shut them down because they haven’t complied,” Mueller says.
Another way you can help is through prayer.
“Pray that our communities would continue to be protected from the actual virus, [and] pray for an economic resurgence in these communities,” Mueller says.
“Pray for the girls in these communities. COVID has really impacted our girls. Many of them have been married off at younger ages due to the long homestays. We’re going to see the impact of this in years to come. There [will be] fewer girls in the schools and [fewer] girls finishing their education.”
Header image courtesy of Bennett Tobias via Unsplash