Pandemics and natural disasters affect education systems worldwide resulting in closures of schools, colleges and universities. While these closures seem to present a logical solution to enforcing social distancing within communities, prolonged closures tend to have disproportionate adverse effects on the most vulnerable students, teachers and families.
The current school closures in most AU Member States have shed insights into the social and economic issues such as digital learning, student debt settlements, food insecurity, homelessness and access to childcare support.
In Africa during national lockdowns, students in rural areas do not have the same learning opportunities as their compatriots who live in urban areas and have access to internet facilities. In areas where school feeding programmes are active, closure of schools also means inadequate food for resource-poor households.
Therefore, AUDA-NEPAD, the African Union development agency, wants to implement an intervention to provide technical support to Member States to mitigate the social and economic adverse effects of school closures during COVID-19 pandemics and other unforeseen future crises such as natural disasters. Member States may also need to enhance the delivery of civic education to create awareness about the pandemics, epidemics and other infectious diseases.
Specifically, AUDA-NEPAD will provide support to Member States in the following areas:
- Assisting Member States to enhance and strengthen their Educational System Preparedness Protocols and Frameworks for Pandemics and Natural Disasters
- Work with Member States and partners in the provision of virtual learning tools and platforms for vulnerable communities
- Provide physical infrastructure (electricity, internet etc.,) support for vulnerable communities to access and utilize offline and online learning and virtual learning platforms
To read more about AUDA-NEPAD's response to the COVID-19 crisis, you can download the whitepaper on https://www.nepad.org/publication/auda-nepad-response-covid-19-other-epidemics