The corona-virus pandemic has overwhelmed the world systems, specifically crippling health, hospitality, aviation, and sports sectors. The education sector has also been adversely affected as the attempt to curtail the spread of the virus has resulted in the closure of schools. While many schools have adopted online learning, a lot of underprivileged children have had their education come to an indefinite halt. This foretells a significant rise in the numbers of out of school children in Nigeria.
EFFECTS OF COVID-19 SCHOOL CLOSURES
The Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control confirmed the first corona-virus case in Lagos State on the 27th of February 2020. Following the rapid spread of the highly contagious disease across the other states, the Federal Ministry of Education ordered the immediate closure of schools in the country on 26th of March, 2020 as a proactive measure aimed at curtailing the further spread of the dreaded virus.
According to UNICEF, the closure of schools has affected more than 91 per cent of students worldwide, that is, around 1.6 billion children and young people. This pandemic marks an unprecedented period that is recording the highest number of children out of school and massive disruption in learning especially among the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. For Nigeria, a country battling a learning crisis driven by poverty, cultural factors, and conflict-induced displacement pre-pandemic, the closure of schools signals a brewing crisis within a crisis.
Nigeria is home to 16 million out of school children as a result of an underfunded educational system fraught by low-quality teaching, inequity, and low government priority on innovation or infrastructure. Extended school closures may cause loss of learning that will increase the number of dropouts, subsequently worsening the rate of inequality and illiteracy. Loss of education also bears far-reaching consequences that will impact on the socio-economic development of the country.
To mitigate the negative impact of disrupted learning, the State and Federal government in collaboration with development organisations need to implement better responses that prioritize continued learning during the pandemic and substantial efforts need to be ensured to minimize the effect of the learning gap on vulnerable children.
YOUNG SHAPERS CLUB AS AGENTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly with the mission to achieve 17 sustainable development goals around the world. The goals were built on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, and among these goals is the benchmark for inclusive and quality education (SDG 4).
Education is a fundamental human right that is central for building resilient societies, as well as achieving personal aspirations and all the other Sustainable Development Goals. The Young Shapers Club made SDG 4 her core operational SDG to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality primary and secondary education irrespective of their socioeconomic background. Young Shapers Club started with implementing educational programmes in select IDP camps in Abuja by delivering basic tutorial lessons in makeshift classes. This project enabled the initial selection of promising participants who received sponsorship to enrol in formal educational systems.
Girl Education and Gender Equality
Girl Child and Gender Equality According to the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, “Girls, particularly adolescent girls face significant barriers to a quality education in many contexts”. These set of children are at risks of sexual harassment and exploitation while away from school. The Young Shapers team has measures in place to avoid her female beneficiaries from becoming victims of sexual harassment. One of such measures is to sensitize parents and guardians about ensuring child-friendly environment in accordance with the Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) guidelines.
The organization also has a platform to report any case of sexual harassment and exploitation among children. Many people believe the girl child is solely responsible for household chores. This notion however, has a negative effect on the well-being of the girl child. In a situation where a household decides who gets educated, many times, boys are chosen over girls. The girl child education is under threat, hence, the Young Shapers mandated for a higher percentage of girl child enrollment when awarding her annual educational scholarships. To tackle the challenges created by the current pandemic, we have restrategized our framework to ensure gender equality is prioritized in all our activities and girls, as well as the most vulnerable, are protected during school closure.
Young Shapers Club Edutech
“Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, it’s transformational.” — George Couros
In 2019, Young Shapers Club introduced the Edutech scheme that facilitates self-learning among pupils through the use of digital learning tablets. This initiative aims to promote quality education and digital skills by familiarizing children with educational technology and innovative learning methods. The pilot edition of this project was successfully implemented in schools with 300 beneficiaries.