How did Covid 19 affected education
| Mpho Phakisi - 01 Apr 2022

We know COVID-19 is a global health emergency. But the pandemic has also caused the largest disruption of schooling in history, where hundreds-of-millions children, especially the poorest, stand to lose the learning opportunities that could transform their lives. In Lesotho, children have been out of school since March 2020. The combination of missed schooling increased poverty, and education budget cuts will hurt half a million Basotho children for the rest of their lives. I had a feeling that learning should be prioritized for Basotho children, whether in a school environment or at home, can continue to learn.

According to statistics less than half of children aged 7 to 14 have foundational reading skills in either English or Sesotho and only 15 percent in the same age group are demonstrating foundational numeracy skills. Whether you have access to school or can complete school depends a lot on poverty, geography, and gender: Only 1 in 10 children from poor households in Lesotho are likely to complete secondary school compared to half of the children from the wealthiest families. While 9 out of 10 children from Maseru are likely to access secondary education, it’s only 3 in 10 children for children from rural areas in the Highlands. Across the country, about 40 percent of children have access to pre-primary education, despite overwhelming evidence that starting school early helps build the foundations of learning and development which will help children succeed in school.

Lesotho is already in a learning crisis. Now with COVID-19 these trends, affecting children, their families, and their futures, are set to worsen. What can we do as teachers to make sure that this devastating health and socio-economic crisis does not also become an education emergency? There is no magic solution but there are things that we can do to make sure Basotho children are not disadvantaged.

First of all, we have to keep learning alive through technology, even when schools are closed. When the lockdown was initiated, as teachers we had to be creative, and actively try to keep learning alive.

I used WhatsApp audios, pictures, and videos to teach students who came from poor families with no access to laptops. It was a hard situation, for students without smartphones, I had to send normal phone texts to refer them to their textbooks and give instructions. Half of my students had no access to data on daily bases. Therefore I had to make WhatsApp voice notes, audios, and videos so that by the time they had access to data they could carry on with their studies. I found it easy to teach those with smartphones, laptops, and desktops. I used different types of platforms. E.g. Zoom meeting, Google meet, Microsoft team, Buncee, etc.

 



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