Is homeschooling good for developing countries?
The COVID pandemic in spring 2020 will probably burn itself into our memories forever. Those weeks when nothing is “normal” anymore, when worries about the health of our families, friends and colleagues determine our thoughts. Weeks in which many people fear for their jobs and for their future. In which we are with home office, homeschooling and closed daycare centers. A time that poses great challenges for us as a society.
Worldwide, 91 percent of children are currently out of school
COVID-19 has not only triggered an enormous health crisis worldwide, it is also spreading across the world. The current crisis will undo development progress that has already been made. And it is likely to trigger a devastating educational catastrophe: 1.5 billion pupils and students are affected by school closings! Over 91 percent of school-age children worldwide are currently unable to attend school. Even for us in Germany, the challenges are with us homeschooling and online learning huge. These options simply do not exist for children of poor families in developing countries. For them, the current school closings usually mean the final end of their way to school. Only a fraction of families in developing countries will still be able to give their own children access to learning resources, and Internet access and computer learning are inaccessible for most children. Like a magnifying glass, the COVID crisis shows the inequalities in educational opportunities: Those who have sufficient funds can give their own children continuity in learning, while the other children fall by the wayside. In many developing countries, there is simply not enough money for alternative learning methods that are also available to the poorest, for example on the radio. Hundreds of millions of children will lose touch and never return to the classroom. Without schooling, they have no chance of an apprenticeship and thus of a job whose wages are sufficient for a life free from poverty. The enormous education crisis will turn into a poverty crisis in the long term. The gap between rich and poor continues to widen.
Girls particularly affected
Girls are hit particularly hard by the COVID crisis and school closings. By staying at home, they spend more time at home with male relatives, and as a result, incidents of sexual violence, early pregnancies, and early marriage have increased. The Ebola crisis, for example, doubled the rate of teenage pregnancies; similar effects are to be feared in the current crisis. In addition, the girls usually take on typical care and care work in the household, they look after sick relatives, get water and firewood, cook and clean - learning in a crisis is out of the question. And so more girls than boys stay away from school permanently after such times of need. This means less access to information, education, knowledge of one's own rights and participation in society. A step backwards for gender equality.
Development policy in demand
Another threat to the educational opportunities of children around the world is already becoming clear: The public budgets of the countries, especially those of the developing countries, are under dramatic pressure. The few resources available are needed to sustain health care. Investing in school systems is likely to leave many countries behind. This means that better educational opportunities for all children are becoming a long way off - and with it the goal of halving global poverty by 2030.
All of this can be easily calculated. Now is the time for German development policy. The Ministry of Development and Minister Müller are currently working on a package of measures for the COVID-19 pandemic. This must include the promotion of education so that learning can continue during and after the crisis. Sufficient funding for basic social services, i.e. education, health care and social security, is more important than ever. Otherwise the health crisis will turn into an education and poverty crisis.
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