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Children and young people have been driven out of school as Covid-19 closures impact refugee camps and settlements in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. Please donate on Work for Good from 12pm GMT on 1 December to 12pm GMT on 8 December and your donation will be quadrupled, via our Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign.
The Eastern Africa region is host to over 20 million people affected by conflict, internally displaced in their countries or living as refugees in a neighbouring country. Vulnerable children and young people had already been cut off from education, reducing their chance to achieve their academic potential. Challenged by the coronavirus crisis, schools have had to adapt their processes, and learners have had to attempt distance learning. Many students are at risk of losing scholarship opportunities, and girls particularly are at risk of dropping out of school completely. We desperately need to address this situation and continue to find ways of helping children and young people back to education safely. Click here to see five ways that Covid-19 has affected education in East Africa.
Windle has unique experience of supporting the education of marginalised communities across Eastern Africa. From managing primary schools to providing higher education scholarships and offering vocational training, we help people to succeed at every educational level. To respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we are providing handwashing stations, hygiene & cleaning materials, hygiene kits for learners, reusable face masks, sanitizers & disinfectants and no contact thermometers in cam schools. Additionally, we are training more teachers to guarantee social distancing with fewer students per class. This campaign will complement our extensive work from primary till and tertiary level and meet a specific gap.
How We Will Do This
Providing high-level certified training to young people, including both refugees, the internally displaced and others affected by conflict, in key skill areas such as Water Engineering, Teacher Training, Economic Development, Health. We aim to see each person making a powerful contribution.
Windle is deeply involved in preparing East African schools to innovate in the way education is delivered safely in a post-COVID environment. We will engage both the students supported in this project and our alumni in responding to the challenges in schools, in the education sector and more widely.
Windle has supported the education of thousands of refugees and vulnerable young people over many years. This network of motivated and qualified individuals can work together to bring about positive change and support education. We aim to strengthen our alumni network to achieve this.
Engaging with our alumni and others we aim to provide mentoring support to the students we support in order to facilitate their transition from study to the world of work, to access internships and to develop their professional networks.
Please support our Christmas Campaign!
Thank you, anything you can donate - even the cost of a cup of coffee - will help us to support children and young people to continue their education.
Five ways Covid-19 has affected education in Eastern Africa
In March 2020, the first cases of the COVID-19 virus were reported in Eastern Africa. Whilst the number of confirmed cases has remained relatively low in refugee camps and settlements so far (although this is possibly due to low testing rates), the pandemic has still taken a huge toll on refugees’ lives. And as cases are now beginning to increase in some of the world’s largest refugee camps, there is a real danger of cases being introduced and spreading more widely among refugee and host community populations in Eastern Africa, as the lack of sanitation and the high concentration of people in camps increase the chances of the virus spreading.
Education is particularly affected as schools and universities closed in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Prior to the pandemic, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that access to education for refugees and people affected by conflict and marginalisation is much lower than for non-refugees: worldwide, only 63% of refugee children are enrolled in primary schools, 24% at secondary level and 3% in Higher Education.
Armed conflict is a major cause for driving many children out of school, and it has only been exacerbated by pandemic school closures. Some conflicts have got worse, for example in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has resulted in an increase in people seeking refuge in neighbouring Uganda. People who are already vulnerable, including children and young people, have been cut off from education, reducing their chance to achieve their academic potential and to contribute to sustainable development in their communities and wider society. Here, we share the main challenges to education facing refugees, refugee-hosting communities, and all those who have been marginalised or otherwise affected by conflicts in Eastern Africa.
1/ Striving to learn from a distance
Our members report that more than 90% of primary and secondary school students have been impacted by the closure of educational institutions in the countries we work in. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) also reports the very real risk of losing all past gains made in the education sector.
It is a real challenge to offer distance education in refugee camps. Many children lack access to the internet and flexibility to shift school calendars. Windle members provide lessons through local radio stations, printed textbooks and online platforms. But many topics are difficult to understand without the help of a teacher or support from peers, and we are likely to see a decrease in educational attainment following the pandemic. With our continued support, we hope that students will return to school after the pandemic. We are doing all we can to make sure that education continues as much as possible, because the longer children stay out of school, the bigger the risk is that they won’t return.
2/ Maintaining high-quality education
Educational resources like textbooks, desks and exercise books are so important when it comes to making sure children and young people can learn properly, as is having teachers that are properly trained. Whilst these are major issues when it comes to delivering high-quality education in refugee and host community settings generally, the pandemic has meant that children are unable to attend school, and therefore cannot access these learning materials. Worldwide, support for education for refugees is decreasing, as countries typically supportive commit less funding to agencies like UNHCR and other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in light of the pandemic.
3/ Adapting schools for re-opening
As schools begin to open in some countries, our members need to make sure that these are safe and sanitary environments for children.
In Kenya, we manage 16 secondary schools, with a total of 20,000 learners and 120 students per classroom. In Uganda, we manage 13 secondary schools with a total of 11,000 learners, with 160 learners per classroom. Clearly, in order for us to safely deliver education in these contexts, significant changes will need to be made to ensure social distancing measures are in place. With a shortage of trained teachers already, the challenge is to find and train teachers to attempt to bring the student-teacher ratio down.
We’ve already been able to provide some hand-washing stations, hygiene and cleaning materials, reusable face masks, and no-contact thermometers in some schools, for example, in Somalia, where we're able to support 2,000 students to sit national exams safely with face masks and other precautions. But our members desperately need more support to extend this across all contexts.
4/ Maintaining an option for higher education
Many universities and Higher Education institutions closed in March, and only resumed lessons in mid-August, severely disrupting the academic year for many students. Whilst a number of institutions were able to offer online lessons, many were not, and those students whose lessons did go online faced the additional barrier of being able to afford or even access the internet required to take part. At Windle International, we count 26 graduations that have all been delayed, with no plans for a virtual graduation.
As a result of the pandemic, many regular tertiary education scholarships were not able to be confirmed for new student intakes in 2020/2021. With fewer opportunities for able students to progress to tertiary level education and training, there is a pressing need for additional resources to make sure everyone can fulfil their potential.
5/ Keeping girls in education
Girls face unique barriers to continue to follow formal education from a distance. Staying at home is an additional challenge for girls, with increased childcare responsibilities & household chores, but also frequent breakouts of inter-communal conflict, neglect and forced marriages. The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that 10 million girls will not be able to return to school following the COVID-19 crisis.
Under-funding has brought many programmes to a halt, which also impacts essential activities, such as child protection, support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, health services and girls’ education. Windle members strive to make girls’ education a priority across all of our programmes, and we will continue to do this through the additional challenges that Covid-19 presents.
The impact of Covid-19 on education is a huge concern for Windle International. Since March 2020, the pandemic has affected learning and forced the closure of learning institutions across the region including schools, training centres and universities. Our teams need to act as quickly as possible with populations already vulnerable.
If we do not tackle the crisis immediately, the social gap caused by the pandemic will only deepen. Despite the many challenges, Windle has been finding ways to make sure children and young people can safely continue their lessons and work towards creating a brighter future for themselves, their families and communities.
Helping girls in Somalia safely sit their exams
The impact of Covid-19 on education is a huge concern for Windle International. As across the world, the pandemic has affected learning and forced the closure of learning institutions across the country, including schools and universities, since March 18th, 2020. In Kismayo where Windle delivers its Basic Education Programme, Windle was able to support students to undertake their National Exams safely, thanks to our supporters.
We were able to support Covid-19 precautions during exams in the following ways:
Procuring Ministry of Health approved, locally made, reusable face masks to 2,220 girls and boys and 201 exam invigilators;
Distributing leaflets with information and guidelines about how to use the face masks correctly, in Somali and English.
Thanks to the support, Windle International students were able to sit their exams and continue their education, despite the disruption of the global pandemic.