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What happens when schools close?

An empty school building with missing windows in Uganda

“Education is a powerful driver of development and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability. “- Worldbank

 

The benefits of education on individuals and society as a whole are well-documented and many.  According to the University of the People, some of the benefits of an education are:

– It promotes a greater sense of empowerment and equality

– It improves economic growth

– It allows for the development of needed life skills

– It reduces crime rates

– It helps lower gender-based violence

– It reduces the rate and likelihood of child marriage

 

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning worldwide.  While schools in some areas of the world have reopened, schools in Uganda have been closed for over 77 weeks – the longest closure of anywhere in the world according to the U.N. cultural agency.  Without resources for remote learning, the school closures mean that most students in Uganda have been without educational training of any kind for the last year and a half.  Save the Children called the prolonged school closures the “biggest global education emergency of our time” and they have identified Uganda as one of the countries at high risk for school system collapse. 

 The lack of access to education has negatively impacted students, their families, and the Ugandan economy.  According to a recent AP News report, unwanted pregnancies, child marriages, dropout rates, and the number of people living in poverty has increased.  Older children are leaving home looking for work wherever they can find it, and hope for the future is dwindling.  In an interview with AP News, Francis Adungosi, a former Ugandan teacher currently working at a mine, said that students “are traumatized. Remember they are having a lot of challenges.”  

But there is hope on the horizon.  Earlier this month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that schools would reopen in January.  We at ROWAN stand with the children and families in Uganda. We will be praying that this reopening timeframe sticks and that children across Uganda will be able to return to the safety and structure of their classrooms.  Will you join us in this prayer?

 

Photo by the Associated Press

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

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