On this day, the 24th of January 2021, the International Day of Education as set aside by the United Nations, about 5.3 million learners in Africa risk dropping out of schooling due to COVID-19.
Among these children are victims of teenage pregnancy, early marriage, child labour and economic migration, and those attending collapsed private schools, due to over 10 months of school closures.
As countries continue to re-open schools, African governments must prioritize interventions geared towards protecting the right to education by ensuring all children who left school in March 2020 return in 2021.
We recognize the logistical and infrastructural challenges countries may face; together with the risks posed to the health of teachers and students as they attend school within COVID; but our commitment to education as a right must override these obstacles.
We call on African governments to:
1. Prioritize the involvement of local communities, especially Parent-Teacher Associations in planning and implementing their school re-opening agendas, and more specifically, in finding additional spaces for use as classrooms in the communities.
2. Embark on a campaign to identify and support all categories of children at risk of dropping out (as identified in paragraph 1) to re-enroll and complete school.
3. Put in place measures to strictly observe physical distancing protocols in classrooms by keeping average class sizes of 30 (one student per desk in a one-metre-all-round spaced arrangement), in accordance with UNECSCO and WHO recommended COVID-19 classroom protocols.
4. Provide nose masks, soap, sanitizers and running water at all times for students and teachers within the school environment.
5. Announce immediate timelines for securing vaccines for front line workers, including teachers and health workers, and further, all learners.
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Source: Ghana Web