The Impact of COVID-19 on Education in Africa

By Grand View Research: With Africa reeling from the coronavirus pandemic amid the absence of a strong healthcare setup, there is another area that the governments can ill-afford to turn away from – education!

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been there for all to see. Deaths have become commonplace every day, and the normal routines that people went about every day in the pre-March 2020 world is expected to be swiftly replaced by ‘the new normal’, which would be identified by the presence of face masks, social distancing and a constant focus on health and sanitization, as citizens try to keep the virus at bay. The virus has left a trail of death and economic destruction in its wake. An area that has been affected severely is education, as governments have taken a strict ‘safety-first’ approach. This unprecedented situation has been more or less managed in the developed regions such as North America and Western Europe; however, for regions such as Africa, this has turned into a critical issue that needs immediate answers.

For starters, African countries as a whole do not have access to the same level of technology that is utilized in the much more advanced regions around the globe. The problems that the region faces in healthcare goes very deep, with experts having warned that the broken healthcare setup is doomed to fail, should the cases go out of control. This has had a cascading effect on the education sector, as children have become wary of resuming school out of fear of contracting corona virus, with schools slowly reopening on the continent’s West Coast. For instance, Kenya has inched towards 10,000 cases as of July 11, although the rate of deaths has been managed to a certain extent.

Authorities have swiftly swung into action, announcing that schools can only be reopened in 2021, while canceling the current 2019-2020 academic year. This has had parents worried in terms of the tuition fees that they fear would be going to waste, while the absence of optimum study material in the country, or for that matter the whole region, can have a major impact on future studies, until proper contingency plans are made. In terms of taking a decision on reopening of schools, Kenya and Ghana have stood at opposite ends. While teachers and stakeholders have appreciated the Kenyan educational authority’s response in the pace of the pandemic, Ghana has insisted on opening their schools and educational institutes, which has made both children and parents cautious of avoiding them, without the presence of any safety measures.

Although short-term solutions have been enforced by governments in the region, which may or may not have been accepted by all parties, more needs to be done on the long-term basis. A combination of far-from-ready healthcare infrastructure and lack of awareness among authorities in a number of countries, has kept the outlook grim. This situation is worse in the sub-Saharan Africa region, where 87% of the children have little resources in terms of learning, and the absence of schooling in the long run can create various social issues, such as being lured or forced into dangerous jobs or activities. Not helping matters is that majority of these countries are low-income ones, which creates the issue of offering remote learning opportunities. A very recent Brooking report concerning the region stated that less than a quarter of the countries in the region, according to their estimates, offered remote learning opportunities to students, with the same figure standing at around 90% for developed and high-income economies. This calls for authorities to take a long and hard look at the situation, and make contingency plans according to the worst-possible scenarios.

With the technological infrastructure in Africa not expected to magically improve in a few months’ time, educational authorities and all the stakeholders must create an organized schedule in order to move ahead. These would be baby steps towards success, and may take quite a while, but can promise good results. One of the ideas mooted by experts include allotting different timings to students based on their grade or class ID, so that classes can be conducted while following social distancing guidelines.

Moreover, core subjects such as Math, Science and languages may be prioritized over others, and children may be allowed to attend schools in their vicinity, so as to avoid outside environment as much as possible. This all can however, only be made possible when the Government and the society work in tandem. The government may keep all the information and updates transparent to the educational community, while also ensuring that the most basic sanitization facilities are made available. Taking parents into confidence is the best way that the issue can be tackled, thus ensuring the kids’ health and safety, while also avoiding any long-term pitfalls in this regard free adult movies

About Grand View Research

Grand View Research is an India & U.S. based market research and consulting company headquartered in San Francisco, which offers syndicated research reports, customized research reports, and consulting services.