The KIX Africa 19 Hub explores how country partners are reaching and teaching girls in the pandemic in a roundtable organized by UNESCO IICBA
Participants of Roundtable/UNESCO IICBA
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the closure of hundreds of thousands of schools across sub-Saharan Africa, affecting the learning of approximately 250 million girls and boys. Girls in particular, and especially disadvantaged, poor, and rural girls, have been some of the most profoundly affected learners during the pandemic.
To address these concerns, the Global Partnership for Education’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) Africa 19 Hub organized a roundtable on November 25, 2021 entitled, “Reaching and Teaching the Girl Child in the COVID-19 Era” to exchange knowledge and information on gender-inclusive school re-opening and remedial learning policies in the Sub-Saharan African context. Continental and national-level approaches and impacts were shared and discussed with more than sixty participants from fifteen Hub countries including The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Ian Kaliwo presentation/UNESCO IICBA
The roundtable started with Ian Kaliwo, a Project Officer from the African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa, sharing and highlighting approaches to respond to the loss of schooling by ensuring “psycho-social [support], food, cash transfer and other social protection programs” which have affected girls more as they face “greater gaps in school support and materials”
For example, Esther Akuma from the Ministry of General Education and Instruction shared how South Sudan's employment of cash transfers as well as messaging and teaching strategies not only retained but increased the number of girl learners in the pandemic era, indicating that “if the enrollment growth continues…it is expected that by 2022 [South Sudan] could see the number of girls equaling…the number of boys in school.”
Esther Akuma’s presentation/UNESCO IICBA
From Zimbabwe, Kwadzanai Nyanungo of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education provided insight on initiatives such as Zimbabwe’s back-to school campaign. The campaign that took place from June to September 2021 included Service Fairs that provided the forum for “in-built community dialogue sessions” in all districts in the country that resulted “in many children with disabilities, pregnant teens and those in under-aged marriages returning to schools”.
Kwadzanai Nyanungo's presentation/UNESCO IICBA
Education systems can support these efforts through “promoting the management and utilization of gender-disaggregated data for all categories of vulnerable learners…and allow for flexible school schedules,” according to Shem Bodo, Senior Programs Officer from the Association for the Development of Education in Africa. Bodo shared further recommendations to support girl learners in returning and staying in school from a recent KIX Observatory report on Schools Reopening in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Twists and Turns.
Shem Bodo Presentation/UNESCO IICBA