from HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) – THE reopening of schools in Uganda brings to an end the world’s longest school closure following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Schools in the landlocked East African country opened on Monday following their closure in March 2020.
Uganda has kept schools fully or partly closed, putting some children’s education on hold for 83 weeks.
Save the Children said lost learning may lead to high dropout rates in the coming weeks without urgent action.
Last November, Save the Children revealed that up to one in five children in fragile countries, including Uganda, had dropped out of school because of rising poverty, child marriage and child labour.
The pandemic has exacerbated these problems.
Save the Children is now warning of a ‘second wave’ of dropouts as returning students who have fallen behind in their learning fear they have no chance of catching up.
“As schools begin to reopen across the country, it is critical that all girls and boys have access to the support they need to successfully return to the classroom,” said Edison Nsubuga, Head of Education at Save the Children in Uganda.
To tackle the learning crisis in Uganda, the agency has launched Catch-up Clubs.
It is hailed as an innovative approach to accelerate the recovery of lost learning during the pandemic and help children successfully return to school.
The clubs assess children and teach them at the required level to help them regain literacy and other learning, with child protection support and cash assistance for families struggling to send them to school.
Despite efforts to provide remote learning, many children were unable to access online lessons during the pandemic because they had no computer or suffered poor internet connections.
Alongside Uganda and Colombia, Save the Children plans to launch Catch-up Clubs in Myanmar, Malawi, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nigeria in the coming months.
Further countries are to follow in an effort to reach over a million children by the end of 2022.
– CAJ News