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Education in the Midst of a War Between Humanity and Covid-19

Covid-19 is taking over our world, and it takes a matter of seconds for us to worry about the war that has begun between humanity and the virus. If it’s not the economy we’re worried about, it’s our health, if it’s not our health that we’re worried about then it’s the education of our future leaders; the people that will make a difference. Schools have been jeopardized, and new styles of learning have been put into place. 

Our situation is tragic, but we’re stronger than we think. We can fight this war, win the battles, and get through it. We will see the light at the end of the tunnel. While it would be an understatement to say that getting there will be easy, new methods of learning are taking place, and communities are supporting each other more than ever. 

In June 2020, Elizabeth Ampomah from Tamale, Ghana described her life after school closure due to COVID: she says, “ Due to the school closures, my life and that of my family have changed a lot, and a large number of students, teachers and parents are in the same situation.” She also states, “Despite the remote learning platforms to combat the effect of COVID-19 on education, I and some students in my community still face a lot of challenges in ensuring equitable access to these services, because we do not have access to online learning devices or the internet at home.” While it’s so challenging for many students, the community is taking action. Elizabeth later states, “Thanks to some teachers around me who help me with weekly assignments, however, I am always actively learning.” Millions of students from all grade levels are in the same situation as Elizabeth; whether it may be more or less drastic.

The Struggle 

While home-schooling may be an option, it’s not an option for all. To ensure kids are learning, many parents have taken up home-schooling, but making such a drastic change is hard for both the parents and kids. “There are many distractions. Some days she wants to watch TV only,” said Nora Akemson Avicor, an Accra-based parent of a four-year-old girl based in Accra. “Some days I am super busy with the business and we don’t even get time to do anything at all.” Parents have a variety of responsibilities, and teaching their children adds to their list of things to do. 

Motivation is key for success. Many children are self motivated to do good in school, but a variety of other kids aren’t. While at school some kids don’t have the urge to open a book, do their homework, or study for tests they’re probably not going to have the urge to do so at home.

The impact of this pandemic has taken a toll on children of all ages, but those who are getting ready to take big tests that will determine their future, are being affected the most. A teacher from Sagnarigu municipality said, “Many of the children only learn at school, they don’t study at home. Since we have been home, if you ask many of the students, they will tell you that they haven’t opened a book. And these are students preparing to write the BECE.” 

Possible Solutions and Inequality 

To ensure kids are getting some kind of education, especially those who are getting ready for the BECE, the Ministry of Education, has launched several broadcasts. The use of Zoom, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Google Classroom has been put into action, but there are always kids with no internet access who are eligible to attend class this way. While some students are privileged enough to have access to phones, iPads, or computers, there are many who aren’t. This creates a huge gap of inequality between students. 

Future Leaders into Action!

As the virus keeps thriving, African youth is taking charge in their education. They have challenged themselves in a variety of ways. If they´re not battling against misleading information that gets a round in their communities, they are leading hand washing campaigns and advertising sanitation. In the long run, this will save many lives, and it already has. 

In Ghana, young engineer Richard Kwarteng and his brother, Jude Oesi, have developed solar-powered hand-washing basins. It’s an innovation composed of sensors, and an alarm of 20 seconds to ensure that handwashing is done in accordance with the World Health Organization proposals. The young engineers are working with the president to consider adding additional basins in cities throughout the country. This innovation can bring about change in Africa’s sanitation even after Covid-19 is no longer a threat. 

In Cameroon, in order to respond to the safety of schools reopening, the Local Youth association launched the One Person One Hand Sanitizer Campaign, which has produced and administered over 10,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to communities. The voice 

While some students aren’t scared of the virus, many are terrified and this is what they have to say about it, “We have to go to school to write our exams to be admitted to the university. But with coronavirus around, it is terrifying,” Joel Sonne, a student currently doing his finals, told DW.

He later on explains, “It makes me feel insecure because you never know who has the virus. From what I am hearing, some people might have the virus but don’t show any symptoms. In case I go to school and contract the virus, I might unknowingly pass it on to my parents. So in a way, I am concerned about my safety and the safety of all.” 

The Fight Towards Inclusion Continues 

We can’t leave kids behind, but we might just have. Kids with disabilities are greatly impacted. While everyone worries about students’ education, some are leaving out those with disabilities. This is an injustice that should be dealt with because they too deserve education during this unprecedented time. 

In schools, institutions, or universities students with hearing loss have interpreters, and those who are blind have sighted friends that assist. Through any digital platforms, it becomes extremely hard for them to keep learning. Esinam Aleawobu, a student with hearing loss, had explained to Global Voices her experiences with e-learning, she says, 

“Sometimes some tutors will use audio instead of captions. But I am deaf, I can’t hear on audio. That means an interpreter is supposed to translate it for deaf people. I have to meet the interpreter through the Zoom app. But unfortunately, we can’t meet often due to network connection problems and some phone problems.”

Kids all around the world are encountering these problems, and it’s unjust that they have to go through it. Teachers are exploring a variety of new platforms that will work for everyone, but they have to keep in mind the cost of internet data, and the cost of the platforms. 

References: 

(www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. “COVID-19: Africa’s Education Dilemma: DW: 10.07.2020.” DW.COM, www.dw.com/en/covid-19-africas-education-dilemma/a-54130759. Ampomah, Elizabeth, et al. “How My Life Has Changed since Schools Closed in Ghana.” Global Partnership for Education, 25 June 2020, 

www.globalpartnership.org/blog/how-my-life-has-changed-schools-closed-ghana. “How COVID-19 Affects Education for People with Disabilities in Ghana · Global Voices.” Global Voices, 6 July 2020, 

globalvoices.org/2020/07/03/how-covid-19-affects-education-for-people-with-disabilities-in-gha na/. 

Mohammed, Wunpini Fatimata. “What COVID-19 Reveals about Educational Inequality in Ghana.” Ghana News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 7 Apr. 2020, 

www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/covid-19-reveals-educational-inequality-ghana-2004071007 29985.html.

Rebeca Pelluz Otero

Rebeca Pelluz Otero currently attends John Hersey High School in the suburbs of Chicago. She moved to the states in 2012 with her family. Rebeca joined WIN as a volunteer blogger during the summer of 2020; she admires those who selflessly put themselves out there to better the world. Rebeca hopes to attend college after she graduates high school in 2023. Then major in Biochemistry and become a doctor.

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