The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an upheaval of everyday life, especially for our children’s education. Life in East Africa is no different; in mid-March teachers were instructed to close school doors and were given little time to prepare materials for children to study at home.
The Ugandan government developed and produced home-school materials, but distribution posed a significant challenge. The Kyotera district in Central Uganda has around 60,000 children in primary education, but only 10,000 sets of educational material were produced. This left schools and pupils struggling to meet the shortfall, as photocopying technology is expensive and hard to come by in many rural areas.
Fields of Life staff identified this problem and stepped in to meet the need. As part of our COVID-19 response, Fields of Life has been reprinting and distributing the government’s educational material. They have been at work in 20 districts in Uganda, providing home-school materials to nearly 11,000 children. Each pack of schoolwork also included material to help parents support their children’s at-home learning and a bar of soap. When students came to school to collect these materials, they were hosted outdoors and socially distanced as much as possible.
Our staff in Uganda report that the wave of uniformed children on their way to collect the resources caused communities to question if they had missed an announcement that schools were reopening! The distribution of these materials has provided an invaluable chance to maintain connections and has revitalised children, parents and teachers with the knowledge that not even a pandemic can stop education.
The Ugandan government has announced that schools will reopen for exam classes in mid-October, and Fields of Life is helping schools make preparations for these returning students. Our staff will continue to support other students and their parents as they remain at home for the foreseeable future, ensuring no child misses out on their education.