The COVID-19 pandemic has left severe damage to the world economies including the stagnation of education. Institutions of learning were forced to close down due to the increase in COVID-19 infections. Learning was conducted online and those who could not afford online learning were forced to use the traditional mode of learning or missed it altogether. Such is the case for Uganda and many countries in the world.
The COVID-19 restrictions in Uganda were confusing at first as they separated families which made children vulnerable to potential abuses such as drug and substance abuse, domestic violence, kidnapping, child sexual exploitation, child hunger among other forms of violence against children. Unfortunately, the many services that could have prevented these offenses including places of worship, CSO, NGOs and even some government institutions were closed down. These abuses have great physical and psychological impact on children.
Restoring and Empowering Communities (REC), a community-based initiative in Uganda supported by the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) stepped in to reach out to the children and youth (through phone and door to door meetings) to counsel them and assure them of a space to engage. Through this outreach, REC was able to distribute food products to the families from underprivileged communities and work with other community-based organizations to sensitize the community on Coronavirus.
To promote continuity of education, REC is working with children and youth to develop activities that respond to COVID-19. The activities involve working with community stakeholders to reach out to destitute children who can’t access education.
Through the Learning to Live Together toolkit developed by Ethics Education for Children initiative and other resources including those developed under the Arigatou International COVID-19 Global Campaign, End Child Poverty resources and guides on preventing violent extremism, young people and children are trained on shaping their values. The country’s curriculum is followed at all times so to ensure that children are up to date with their learning.
Now that schools are closing for holiday, more effort is needed to promote children’s education to prevent school dropouts. The government is still working with teachers to share learning courses through local radio and television stations. Parents and caregivers are also supporting children in their studies and they are encouraged to continue nurturing values and ethics of their children.
REC continues to engage children and young people to share their thoughts on their role as young stakeholders in responding to the COVID-19 campaign.