What is the Impact of Covid 19 on Girls Education?

Sabdio Roba
Posted May 7, 2020 from Kenya

Amina walks to the well to fetch water to start off her day washing last nights’ dishes before she can embark on washing the family laundry. She has her day planned out as has been the routine ever since the government closed all learning institutions in the country due to covid-19. Her new routine means that anything to do with school and books are not in her priorities since there are more pressing needs to do including taking care of her younger brother.

This essentially locks out any thoughts about her books that are in a tattered bag that her mum threw under their makeshift bed. The books will lie there till the government announces through radio that schools have been reopened. This is just a representation of many students in Rural areas who can’t afford access to a quality education system and are further affected when schools closed due to COVID-19.

Already, there is so much uncertainty in the whole world with everybody affected in one way or the other. It is just a couple of weeks but it looks like a life time already. Remote vulnerable communities will face more problem in terms of social and economic wellbeing than others. Pastoralist communities face different uncertainties on daily basis, but this may be more difficult. There is still limited awareness.  Most of them believe that Corona will never reach them, that no case will be reported from here, that we are all safe and it is/will be business as usual. A strong belief and it is our uttermost hope. But the world is prepared, the system is prepared and government has put up measures including closure of schools.

In communities where education is not a priority, specifically girls’ education somebody will wonder what is the impact of this on learning. Already millions of girls are out of school, most of them adolescent mothers, some divorced and even widowed. A lot needs to be done in these communities in terms of quality and equal opportunities for education, but covid-19 worsens a situation that is already bad. After this period of corona virus, statistics will surely show increased number of school dropout by adolescent girls due to early/forced marriage.

School has been a safe haven for vulnerable girls, some were in boarding schools with government protective all over to support them. But now that they are confined to their homes, what will happen? Your guess is as good as mine. Most girls have no food, basic resources like sanitary towels and no resources/ any comfort to study from home.

This period will unfortunately also be a time to expose them to harmful cultural practices like Female genital mutilation and early/forced marriage. In some areas Girls are engaged as early as four years and some get the opportunity to be in school just to learn the basics, some are lucky to be given the opportunity to learn up to grade eight but that opportunity will surely be taken away.

In my community, March, April and September are the months for traditional weddings. In Kenya, students have been at home in the months of March and April and we are not sure of September due to uncertainty of how long this situation will take.  For now, the exchange is very simple. Due to government restrictions on social gatherings, few family members in the same remote village will come together and sell of their girl without anybody in authority recognizing and thus many will be forced into early/forced marriage.

I remember when we were young girls in primary, some of us were engaged at a very young age, we had no resources but luckily our parents gave us the opportunity to learn up to grade eight. We looked forward to being in school because that was the only place we could get food, and basics like sanitary towels. School was the only place to prove ourselves worthy and escape harmful practices. We looked forward to social gatherings specifically in church because that is where we could get opportunity to play with our mates and get support, it was the place we started our own small work as a group of teenagers and got stipends to support our vulnerable selves. Because my story is the same as that of so many other vulnerable girls today, I am scared for them. I am, like so many of us scared for my own future, but theirs come with more uncertainty. How many girls will get the opportunity to get back to school after this pandemic?

A focus on advocating/talking about keeping girls in school over this period is equally as important as sensitization on proper hygiene in prevention of corona. It is girls’ education that produces exceptional gains in areas of health, infant mortality and economic wellbeing of a family. I am speaking on the need to have every child back to school once this ends. I am speaking for universal education, the need for every girl and boy to report back to school and transition well.

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 11

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Chidimma
May 07
May 07

Hi Dear Roba. Hope you and your family are fine. I totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing.

Jill Langhus
May 08
May 08

Hi Sabdio Dear,

How are you and your family doing? I agree with you on how important education is for these girls. I hear your valid concerns. I hope everything will work itself out soon. In the meantime, I hope you and your family are safe and well.

XX

Beth Lacey
May 08
May 08

Universal education seems so intuitive, yet, the cultures we live in make it impossible.

Anita Shrestha
May 08
May 08

Thank you for sharing

Chi8629
May 09
May 09

Thank you for sharing .

Kabahenda
May 12
May 12

Dear Sabdio,

You have raised very important issues. I do hope that when schools re-open, girls in your communit will be able to access school.

The work you are doing is very important for you are raising awareness. I do hope that you are taking your gospel to every male elder, every religious leader, and every who's is who in your community.

I believe that they are the people that need convincing about the importance of educating girls and the role of women in society.

Once they buy into what you are saying, then we may see a reduction in early
child marrriages and pregnancies.

All the best to you. Stay safe and continue the good work.

Antonia Bih
May 12
May 12

Hello dear Roba. Nicely presented. We can't wait to see the world celebrate the end of the COVID 19.
Be safe

Laetitia Shindano
May 14
May 14

Chere Roba
Je partage ton avis que l’école est un lieu sur pour les filles car elle les épargne contre les violences et autres pratiques discriminatoires.
Pendant cette période de Covid-19, les filles doivent être protégées au sein de leur famille et à extérieur.
Merci pour le travail de sensibilisation.

Laetitia

KieraCR
May 14
May 14

Roba,
You made some very crucial and important points that definitely needed to be and continuously need to be brought to the surface, and continuing to raise awareness of how detrimental it can be on young girls that aren't able to receive a proper, consistent, and advanced education. Not to say that anyone's struggle is insignificant but I am in college and a lot of people have communicated their issues and problems with not being able to fully engage with online classes, e.t.c. So I appreciate that you're advocating and speaking on how this pandemic has affected young girls in Kenya.
God Bless!

KieraCR
May 14
May 14

Roba,
Thank you so much for sharing as this is a very important issue that should be considered worldwide and brought to the surface.

Desire KASOLE
May 15
May 15

Merci beaucoup pour le partage car c'est une question très importante qui devrait être considérée dans le monde entier et portée à la surface. Ici chez-nous au R.D.Congo au sud kivu les jeunes filles et les mères qui n'ont étaient à l'école à cause cette pendemie parce qu'elles ne savez pas trouver à manger cherchent partout le moyen pour avoir à manger à travers le vagabondage sexuelles, nous avons de la peine.........