Why Coronavirus is a Killer to Education in Africa
Ever since in world history, the globe is currently experiencing a health pandemic crisis season as the result of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. It started in Wuhan, a province in China, and spread all over the world.
(“What the Coronavirus Means for Africa – Africa Center for Strategic Studies”, 2020)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases confirmed over the world with countries which have high deaths rate include the United States of America, Italy, China, and other countries around the world. The preventive measures of Coronavirus began immediately after the increase in the number of cases confirmed by one country after another in the world. These measures include school closure, countries lockdown, homestay order, and postponements large gatherings include sports events, beaches times, cinema, and conferences.
What happened in Africa?
(“Africa: COVID-19 cases rise to 9,457, deaths reach 442”, 2020)
Coronavirus landed in Egypt and Algeria as among the earlier African countries to confirm the cases, and it started spreading quickly all over the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa. Leaders in Africa made hard decisions to prevent the spread of the virus all over the African countries as the virus continues landing places around the globe. These measures are similar to what the rest of the world is taking to handle the virus strictly. Schools closure orders were among the actions taken to monitor the spread of the virus all over the world. Research shows most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to curb further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic (“COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response”, 2020).
Wait! Where is Africa in school closure orders?
It seems that Africa left behind in school closure orders as one of the measures that were taken by the rest of the world. Without a doubt, after the immediate closure of schools around the globe, most countries in the world shifted into Online learning and Blended learning to continue supporting students learning during these unprecedented times. These decisions seem easier for countries that advanced their technologies such as virtual learning or distance learning in education before the crisis around the globe, including China, which believed to be the origin home of the virus.
In Africa, limited countries moved their education online via National learning platforms, and tools include national televisions and radios channels to get the resources and learning materials to the students during the countries lockdown or school closure. However, it seems to leave behind many of the families and students with no access to these resources to access educational learning online. In some countries across the continent in Africa, these measures to access education are not yet implemented. For example in Tanzania, students from pre-schools to universities level are at home with no clear expectations of how their education will look in the future after the pandemic crisis. With no argument, it is time to see how education in Africa is in a dilemma situation.
Education is in trouble in Africa.
As the continent continues to suffer and is projected by the World Health Organization to be the home of coronavirus in the future due to poor health service in Africa, education will be in shambles to decline in the continent. Most countries are stuck already except for a few limited private institutions which shifted their education online to continue with their modules. At the tertiary level, these institutions include African Leadership University, a network of tertiary institutions with aims to develop ethical and entrepreneurial leaders for Africa and currently located in Rwanda and Mauritius(“African Leadership University – ALU”, 2020). How Coronavirus is a killer for education in Africa?
Here are simple arguments that explore how the virus is a killer to education across the continent.
1. Schools closure and postponements of academic calendars for further notice.
African countries joined the rest of the world to shutdown education institutions such as primary schools, secondary schools, vocational training, and other higher learning institutions to monitor the further spread of the virus. In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the closure of schools and suspended visits by family members of prisoners to all correctional facilities across the country as the deadly novel coronavirus spread in Africa. (“South Africa orders schools closed as COVID-19 spreads”, 2020). The measure adopted widely across the continent in Africa. The action helps to monitor COVID-19. However, it leads to a delay in learning and coverage of modules or syllabus since most countries are not able to shift online wholly, and this kills education during the pandemic crisis.
2. Low motivation among the students to study at home in Africa.
Students across Africa are now at home with their families. Also, students from Africa study outside of the continent; most of them are back to their homes in Africa. These are unprecedented times for everyone, and countries in Africa and around the globe are locked down to observe the homestay orders. These threaten the motivation of students to study at home. These low motivations to students associate the challenges with virtual learning. For many developing countries such as those in Africa, other problems with developing virtual schools relate to Internet connectivity, electricity, and access to digital devices(“The promise and the challenges of virtual schools,” 2020). These challenges lead to a lot of stress to students; as a result, many might quit schools during these uncertain times. Hence leaving school or school dropouts is a threat to education in Africa.
3. Online learning is expensive in Africa.
In Africa, in particular, Sub-Saharan countries are struggling to rebuild their economies to support social services including education and others across the continent. In the education sector, numerous challenges include limited access to technology resources and other necessities to utilize online learning during uncertain times. In addition, most institutions within the sub-region are currently in a state of crises – having to cope with collapsing infrastructure, brain drain, and dwindling financial resources, whilst under increasing pressure to cater for larger student populations (Saint, 1999).
(“Delivering education online: coronavirus underscores what’s missing in Africa”, 2020)
As the world shifted learning online during these uncertain times, students in Africa are struggling to access learning due to limited internet across the continent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it projected that only 1 in 250 people have ingress to connectivity as against the world mean of 1 in 15 (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2007). Online learning in tertiary education poses significant hampers as this mode of learning depends solely on the available information and communication technology infrastructure. Meanwhile, some students from vulnerable communities, in particular, rural areas, are further struggling to access basic necessities, including education. Thus, it seems that the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 put knowledge in Africa in danger, which will lead the intensive struggle to learn across the continent.
4. The novel coronavirus/COVID-19 is strengthening gender disparities in Africa education.
The continent suffers in gender disparities before the hit of the novel coronavirus. Girls left behind in education as the results of challenges facing them, such as early marriages, forced marriages, and African traditional beliefs. Human Rights Watch research in several African countries shows that child marriage and the resulting first pregnancies, a critical barrier to girls’ education, can increase significantly in crises ( Human Rights Watch, 2020). 13 out of the 15 countries around the globe where more than 30% of primary-school-age girls are out of school are in Africa. As girls get older, the gender difference in education steadily widens. In Senior secondary schools, there are gender imbalances in 91% of the Sub-Saharan countries. The novel coronavirus could threaten the African Union’s Agenda 2063 commitment to eliminate gender disparities at all levels, including in education (Odhiombo, 2020). These are uncertain times to the majority of people across the continent, but its consequences doubled to kill education in Sub-Saharan African countries.
In conclusion, the novel coronavirus or otherwise well known as COVID-19 doubled the challenges facing education in Sub-Saharan Africa. African countries need to take close monitoring to reveal the challenges posed by the virus at the earlier stage since it might be worse in the future. The reference for the arguments made by the writer can easily be vivid by reading on the consequences of Ebola on education in western African. Theirworld, a global children’s charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation (Theirworld, 2020), wrote a great blog on the website to explore Ebola consequences on education. It gives a snapshot of similar effects which coronavirus is posing to Africa’s education.
A second COVID-19 case is confirmed in Africa. (2020). Retrieved 22 April 2020, from https://www.afro.who.int/news/second-covid-19-case-confirmed-africa
COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response. (2020). Retrieved 22 April 2020, from https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
African Leadership University – ALU. (2020). Retrieved 7 May 2020, from https://www.alueducation.com/
South Africa orders schools closed as COVID-19 spreads. (2020). Retrieved 22 April 2020, from https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/south-africa-orders-schools-closed-as-covid-19-spreads/1767271
What the Coronavirus Means for Africa – Africa Center for Strategic Studies. (2020). Retrieved 6 May 2020, from https://africacenter.org/spotlight/what-the-coronavirus-means-for-africa/
Africa: COVID-19 cases rise to 9,457, deaths reach 442. (2020). Retrieved 6 May 2020, from https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/africa-covid-19-cases-rise-to-9-457-deaths-reach-442/
Delivering education online: coronavirus underscores what’s missing in Africa. (2020). Retrieved 7 May 2020, from https://theconversation.com/delivering-education-online-coronavirus-underscores-whats-missing-in-africa-134914
How girls’ education and safety will be harmed by the COVID-19 response. (2020). Retrieved 7 May 2020, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/15/how-girls-education-and-safety-will-be-harmed-covid-response
Theirworld. (2020). Retrieved 7 May 2020, from https://theirworld.org/about/theirworld
Lenga Kutwa, Third Year Global Challenges student at African Leadership University.