wearing his school uniform Matias Okwako jumped into a muddy puddle and began his daily search for gold.A luxury that can be more affordable than another precious resource: education.
His rural school in Uganda is idle on a road through a swamp, and he and dozens of other children now work there as informal miners. Grass grows in some of the classrooms, from which window frames have been looted for use as firewood. A short distance from there, another school is renting out its classrooms as rooms.
Schools in Uganda have been completely or partially closed for more than 77 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the longest shutdown in the world, According to the data of the United Nations Culture Agency.
And unlike in many other parts of the world, where classrooms have become virtual, most public schools – where the vast majority of children are taught in this East African nation – are They lacked the ability to offer online teaching.
during the break, Some students got married. Others deal with unwanted pregnancies. Still others, like 17-year-old Okwaku, are still finding work.
Moses Mangeni, a local government official in Busia, where Okwako lives, said the pandemic had made “outcasts”, a lost generation of students now fighting a “battle to figure out how to cope”.
Attempts to control the spread of COVID-19 They disturbed the lives of children in every corner of the globe, and put pressure on their parentsThis complicates the care given to them and often removes their safety nets. And perhaps most importantly, he turned his education into a mess.
The result is “the largest global education emergency of our time,” according to Save the Children Humanitarian, which last month identified 48 countries, including Uganda, whose school systems are at risk of severe or severe collapse. Most of these countries are from sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has long been affected by a high dropout rate and a lack of trained teachers.
Uganda initially closed its schools in March 2020, shortly after confirming the first case of coronavirus infection on the African continent. Some classes reopened to students in February 2021, but a new full lockdown was imposed in June as the country grappled with its first major spike in infections. It is now the only country in Africa where schools remain closed, although President Yoweri Museveni announced last week that they would open in January.
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