Pandemics and Conflict Halt Education in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic and armed conflict have left children in Africa unable to access education. They cannot go to school, receive no teaching, and are constrained by lack of facilities and vast distance.

Pandemics and Conflict Halt Education in Africa' photo
Children in Somalia received new Quran copies. New Quran copies are needed by the students of Quran memorization. Sadly, not all students could afford new Quran copies. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, BURKINA FASO, MOROCCO, CONGO – With the conflict that swept across the Sahel region, teachers in Mentao refugee camp in Burkina Faso had no choice but to stop coming to school, halting the education of the students living in the camp.

“I was very sad to have to stay home all day and not be able to continue classes,”saysOumar Ag Ousmane (17), a student in Camp Mentao, as written on UNHCR website. This was a hard blow for Oumar who was just preparing his primary school leaving exams.

In his hometown of Mopti in Mali, he couldn’t go to school. After his family fled to Mentao camp in 2012, he finally tasted his first education.

To continue Oumar’s education, his parents took him to Goudoubo refugee camp, hoping that the school in the nearby region of Dori would accept Oumar and let him progress to the secondary level. Sadly, as soon as the academic year started, similar security issues continued in Goudoubo.

“I was very disappointed that once again my school closed and that I was not able to finish the new school year,” said Oumar. He is now over the usual age to start secondary school, something very common for refugee children. In Burkina Faso, some 2,500 schools have been closed due to violence, depriving 350,000 children of their education.

In eastern Congo, mothers were anxious as many schools have been closed because of the pandemic. Human Rights Watch reported that these mothers are concerned because their children have already lost a lot.

Even students who learn through online classes have to deal with some difficulties. “Sometimes we don’t hear from a teacher for the whole day, then he’d show up at 6 saying he didn’t have enough internet credit,” said Nawal L, a student in Morocco to Human Rights Watch.

The problems faced by school-aged children in Africa are getting worse. Andi Noor Faradiba of Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT)’s Global Humanity Response explained that ACT is working to support the education of African children. "We have distributed school kit packages, new Quran copies, and food assistance to support the lives of school-aged children in Africa. We hope that our efforts will be supported by generous Indonesian people," hoped Faradiba. []

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