January 10, 2022 – Ugandan children return to class today as the world’s longest school closure ends – but lost learning could lead to high dropout rates in the coming weeks without urgent action , said Save the Children.
In March 2020, all schools across the country closed their doors as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Since then, Uganda has maintained full or partial school closures, suspending the education of some children for 83 weeks.
Last November, Save the Children revealed that up to one in five children in fragile countries, including Uganda, had dropped out of school due to growing poverty, child marriage and child labor, which were exacerbated by the pandemic.
The agency is now warning of a “second wave” of dropouts as returning students who have fallen behind in their learning fear they will have no chance of catching up.
To address the learning crisis in Uganda, Save the Children has launched Catch-up Clubs – an innovative approach to accelerate recovery of learning lost during the pandemic and help children successfully return to school .
Clubs assess children and teach them to the level needed to help them regain literacy and other learning, with child protection support and cash assistance for families struggling to send them. at school.
Despite efforts to provide distance learning, many children were unable to access online courses during the pandemic because they did not have a computer or poor internet connection.
Catch-up clubs provide the boost vulnerable students like 11-year-old Ben * need to avoid having to repeat or drop out forever.
“* Before joining remedial clubs, I didn’t know how to use letter sounds. [confused] in very long words [in books], ” explained Ben, who is enrolled in a remedial club in Wakiso, Uganda. “* Games and songs have helped me learn to pronounce and read long words. I am now able to understand these words whenever I find them in my homework and story books.” *
Catch-up clubs are specifically intended for late children in Grades 3 to 5, when their learning can be accelerated relatively easily. After about 12 weeks, at least 80% of participants can read and write at a level that allows them to learn independently.
Edison Nsubuga, education manager at Save the Children in Uganda, said:
“As schools begin to reopen across the country, it is essential that all girls and boys have access to the support they need to successfully return to the classroom.
“Many children have fallen behind in school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Children who are behind in their learning are less likely to unleash their potential as adults. However, when children get the learning boost they need and have access to quality education, they can reach their full potential.
“The Catch-up Club program is a holistic approach to education that benefits all levels of the community. The clubs have been a lifeline for many children in Uganda as the majority of schools have been closed for almost two years. Without the clubs some of these kids may not be going back to school today. “
Save the Children also worked with the Ministry of Education and Sports in Uganda to encourage families across the country to prepare and return their children to school, including pregnant girls and teenage mothers.
Along with Uganda and Colombia, Save the Children plans to launch catch-up clubs in Myanmar, Malawi, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria in the coming months, with more countries to follow. with the aim of reaching more than one million children by the end of 2022.
As schools begin to reopen in Uganda and around the world, Save the Children calls on governments and donors to support every child’s return to class, ensure families and teachers are supported to make up for the loss. learning lost and rebuilding better and more resilient education systems. The organization is also calling on governments to keep learning alive through inclusive distance learning if schools close their doors again.
Notes to editor: