The cost of coronavirus has been high for all our children – not least, a year of disrupted education. But, sadly, we believe the highest price is being paid by the poorest children. What do we mean?
In poor communities, education is a lifeline, offering a way out of the poverty cycle which has trapped generations. But school is even more than lessons and life skills; it also offers a safe place, away from domestic violence and abuse. It keeps children out of the labour market and off the streets. In some communities, it offers an alternative peer group to violent gangs and street criminals.
So when Covid-19 stopped schools from opening in the slum communities of Guatemala City, the cramped shacks of Kibera, Kenya, and the beach slums of Sri Lanka, the closures didn’t just disrupt education. They also trapped vulnerable children in homes growing ever more impoverished, with no escape from violence or exploitation. Or children were left to roam; looking for food, looking for work, sometimes finding trouble. Online education doesn’t mean much to children with very little reliable access to the internet, who struggle to afford paper, let alone phone data. And semi-literate parents struggling to put food on the table aren’t thinking about their child’s school work.
Re-engaging with school
Our partners worldwide are working hard to re-engage children with learning. Global Care has funded initiatives as diverse as building new temporary classrooms so a school in Kibera can comply with new rules on social distancing, providing soap, masks and water points to re-open schools in Uganda and Zimbabwe, and providing home tutoring or study packs for out-of-school children in Sri Lankan and Bangladesh. Our current focus is on funding a new project in Guatemala, where schools have been closed for a year, and don’t expect to open until May or June 2021: This represents more than a year of falling behind. But our partners have a plan.
Our partners, Street Kids Direct Guatemala, are providing specialist educational support from qualified teachers to 40 vulnerable children on their pioneering mentoring programme, which aims to keep high-risk children off the streets. Two teachers will work with small, socially-distanced groups of children, six days a week, from January to November 2021. Each group will receive a minimum of three half-day sessions each week.
Street Kids Direct don’t just aim to provide catch-up classes for these disadvantaged children after a year of lost education; their goal is to help them excel.
Opportunities through education
Education is by far the most effective tool to end poverty. It opens doors for children that would otherwise remain closed. It gives them prospects and opportunities that would otherwise be denied them.
The coronavirus pandemic is stealing those opportunities from vulnerable children in Guatemala and across the world – but it doesn’t have to win. Just £15,000* will employ two qualified teachers for almost a year to give 40 Guatemalan children their dreams back.
Can you join us? Donate today and rebuild these childrens’ lives.
*Any money raised above this amount will be spent on similar projects across the world, helping the most vulnerable children back to school.