We’ve been a little quiet online lately (apologies – very unlike us). There have been a few snags to blogging this year: obviously the biggest one was the government shutting down internet in the lead-up to and post national elections; and some social media sites are still blocked (more than one month later, VPN sales are soaring).
We aren’t really glass ‘half full’ sort of people, so we knew 2021 wouldn’t be a magical solution to last year’s setbacks. Schools in Uganda are still closed (have been since March last year, with the exception of the final year students so they can sit their exams). The government has organised a very slow, staggered plan for children to return, but there are still lots of question marks surrounding how this will play out.
The bigger question (unfortunately), is how being out of school for more than one year will effect this generation of school-children. We have already heard personal stories as well as generalised statistics of children who will not be returning to school (married, pregnant, continuing with the family business, or will stay to help their family in the garden; and yes, we are talking about primary school children).
The staggered plan to return children begins with oldest first to youngest last. Children in the first three years of primary school (6 to 9-year-olds) are expected to return in June for their 2020 academic year and complete it one month later in July. Yep, you read correctly – one month later! Ludicrous! There certainly hasn’t been any online learning opportunities for these children in their time off; maybe digging opportunities. If they get tested on digging and brick-making, then they will pass with flying colours! And what happens after July? We aren’t quite sure…
There’s absolutely no news about younger children (3 to 6-year-olds in early childhood education settings); and no announcement about when they can return to school.
And whilst our children remain at home, the education need here grows bigger and bigger! When our young children do finally return to school, especially those in the first few years of primary school; they will be depressing and intriguing days inside a classroom.
Although I would absolutely love to take a four-month vacation whilst we wait for children to return, we cannot be idle to this need! Next week our training calendar is full; and we are partnering with other organisations to train reading club volunteers; community teachers and volunteers for teaching small groups of children in local communities as well as in refugee settlements. Our work on radio continues with a new regular storytime slot, and we are planning to return to teaching daily with a local radio station.
This electronic pen will pause for now, but I vow to pick it up more regularly!