Education, Africa

Children in Africa missing school due to COVID, armed conflict

Save the Children urges governments to do more to make schools safe spaces for learning

16.06.2021
Children in Africa missing school due to COVID, armed conflict

ANKARA

Children in Africa have been missing out on access to education due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing armed conflicts, Save the Children said Wednesday.

The children “are sending a clear and urgent message to governments and donors: Save our Education and make schools safe,” the global rights group said in a statement.

The rights group has launched a campaign dubbed 100 Days of Action just as Africa is celebrating the Day of the African Child and the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).

“Even before COVID-19 school closures hit, millions of children across Africa’s crisis and conflict-affected countries were losing out on education. Children in Sub-Saharan Africa have lost, on average, 69 days of education due to school closures and a lack of access to remote learning,” Save the Children said.

Yakob, 16, from Ethiopia, was cited as saying: “COVID-19 had affected me in many ways. But the major problem I had during the COVID-19 school closure was depression. You can’t see your friends, go to school. Being cooped up in the house was really rough for me,”

Another girl, Fatima, 15, who is a member of the children's parliament in Mali, said: “Authorities, decision-makers, and donors need, as the first step, to find out what is really missing in the schools, and then provide a budget that can cover the needs.”

“The education of children in conflict areas is disastrous. Imagine a child going to school and seeing it on fire! He will of course not want to go back, he will think that it’s not a safe place. And unfortunately, this exists in our country,” she added.

In Somalia, where more than 3 million children are out of school over reasons including conflict and climate change-related crises, Farhiya, 16, was quoted as saying: “When I grow up, I want to be a doctor, but I am worried about not completing my studies because of school closures and the pandemic.

"I have seen children dropping out of school because they have either lost their source of income and that their families cannot pay school fees, or because girls are married off during school closure.”

Eric Hazard, Save the Children’s Africa director, said: “While we commend the African Union for progress made in meeting the ACRWC aspirations, and we know Governments are still dealing with the health crisis, we need the education to be top of their agenda for a post COVID world. Before COVID-19, education budgets across the region were declining, and governments must not deprioritise it further when they have to make tough choices.”

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