The following update is courtesy of The Literate Earth Project.
While we all may have different thoughts on the policy responses to COVID-19, there should be no debate that children are very much feeling the impact. From massive spikes in youth suicide to the complete ineffectiveness of distanced learning for young children, to the 22% drop in mean IQ for children under the age of three in the last two years–these are challenging times for children and young adults.
Nowhere has this been clearer than in Uganda. Uganda is one of only five countries in the world where school is still closed for all children, compared to places like Germany, where children have been back in school for over a year. Students in Uganda have been out of school for 85 weeks–the longest school closure streak held by any country. The Ugandan government has stated plans to reopen schools in January, but the immense gap between the 10 million Ugandan children and their global peers is hard to overstate.
Remote learning is difficult everywhere in the world, but it’s nearly impossible in a country where only 24% of homes (9% in rural areas) have internet access–especially when those internet services are pay-per-use. You can’t let your child video call or use Wikipedia if you’re going to have a higher internet bill for their use (unlimited internet plans are essentially nonexistent or cost prohibitive).
In August 2021, the National Planning Authority, a Ugandan government agency, found that “30% of learners are likely not to return to school forever” and that 3,507 primary and 832 secondary schools in the country were likely to permanently close. A child without an education is more prone to drug use, sex work and radicalization. Between March 2020 and June 2021, Uganda reported a 22.5% jump in pregnancies among girls aged 10 to 24. Statistics like these are unacceptable in today’s world. What does our collective future look like if our children are being left behind?
Whatever the Ugandan education environment looks like when schools resume, there is no question more resources and support are going to be needed for children who have been out of school for two years. As 2021 ends, please consider a donation to The Literate Earth Project to help our planet’s most precious resource: children.
To make a donation, please click here.