Africa (MNN) — Students throughout Africa pay a steep price for pandemic-related school closures.
“Vulnerable children have become more vulnerable because they’re more prone to abuse,” TeachBeyond’s Tammy Peters says. Families desperately need money, so girls are sold off as child brides while young boys enter the workforce.
Last year, 50-percent of African countries restricted school access within three days of the first COVID-19 cases. On average, schools were closed for more than 100 days throughout the continent.
“Schools have closed down, and they’ve been closed for a long, long time. Some have tried to reopen, and then closed down again,” Peters says.
“This is a tragedy for millions of children on the continent of Africa.”
Even in places where schools can reopen and stay open, many parents lost their jobs and cannot afford tuition fees. “It’s been an economic problem throughout Africa because most schools cost money to [attend],” Peters notes.
TeachBeyond and its partners provide Christian education for students in poverty. Learn more here. “We work in Ethiopia, in the Congo, and countries around South Africa,” Peters says.
“We felt the impact in our schools as well, yet we’ve been able to maintain a system for [students].”
African students are not the only ones to suffer from pandemic-related school closures, Project Syndicate reports:
Globally, the estimated lifetime earning loss from pandemic-related school closures translates to a loss of 43 to 61 percent of the current gross domestic product in low-income countries, compared to just 6 to 8 percent in high-income countries.
However, in many African nations, “There’s a higher vulnerability [and] fewer resources available. People are starving; there are wars going on,” Peters observes.
Pray for students enrolled in TeachBeyond’s Open Schools program. “We have about 4,000 children [enrolled] right now. These are the most marginalized children; we go into dangerous places because of the kinds of children we’re working with,” Peters explains.
“Those programs had to be shut down [because of the pandemic], and they’re just reopening again. Pray for those programs, for the tutors [we] trained, and for safety.”
Header image courtesy of TeachBeyond.