Uganda reopened its schools to students on Monday after nearly two years, ending the world’s longest school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools in the East African country of 44 million people have been fully or partially closed since March 2020, when the pandemic began. The closures have affected more than 10 million learners, according to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Save the Children hailed the reopening of Ugandan schools, but warned that “the loss of learning could lead to high dropout rates in the coming weeks without urgent action.”
The London-based charity revealed in a report last November that up to one in five children in low-income countries, including Uganda, had dropped out of school due to rising poverty , child marriage and child labor, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. . In a statement released on Monday, Save the Children warned of “a ‘second wave’ of dropouts as returning students who have fallen behind in their learning fear they will have no chance of catching up.”
To address the potential crisis in Uganda, Save the Children has launched “catch-up clubs”, which assess children and teach them to the required level to help them regain literacy and other learning, with support for child protection and cash assistance for families struggling to send them to school.
“As schools begin to reopen across the country, it is essential that all girls and boys have access to the support they need to successfully return to the classroom,” said Edison Nsubuga, education manager to Save the Children in Uganda, in a statement. Monday. “Many children have fallen behind in school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Children who are behind in their learning are less likely to unleash their potential as adults. However, when children get the learning boost they need and have access to quality education, they can reach their full potential.