COVID vaccines support plans to get children in Bali back to school

Increasing vaccination rates provide hope for teachers and parents after more than a year of online learning

Suzanna Dayne
Situation in vaccination drive
UNICEF/UN0473660/Ijazah
28 September 2021

Bali, Indonesia – Classrooms at Sempidi Primary School No. 1 in Badung Regency, Bali, have been empty for more than a year. But today, health workers have arrived with a special cargo that aims to help change all that – the COVID-19 vaccine.  

“We are using the school as a vaccination centre for the village,” explains Dr Wayan Darta, Head of Public Health in Badung Regency. “We have vaccinated all the teachers and health workers in Badung Regency and 95 per cent of our senior citizens. Now we are expanding to the general public.”

Bali saw a spike in cases earlier this year, and the vaccine drive was accelerated as soon as supplies were available. Indonesia has ordered some of its vaccines through COVAX - an international scheme to provide fair access to vaccines. UNICEF leads the effort to procure and supply these vaccines. 

Made Sucia Dewi shows her vaccine certificate.
UNICEF/UN0473650/Ijazah
Made Sucia Dewi shows her vaccine certificate. Her husband Made Dwi Andika, a sanitation worker, was fully vaccinated earlier this year.

Made Sucia Dewi, a mother of two, just got her first dose. She says she hopes the vaccination campaign will mean her daughter can attend school in-person this year. 

“Ratna is a first grader and her only school experience has been online. I hope she can go back soon. She needs a good start in life,” she says. 

English teacher Yuli Andriyani and senior education official Wayan Koper at Sempidi primary school.
UNICEF/UN0473646/Ijazah
English teacher Yuli Andriyani and senior education official Wayan Koper at Sempidi primary school. The school has been closed since March 2020.

Yuli Andriyani, a teacher at Sempidi, has seen the impact that long-term online teaching has had on children. 

“I feel so sorry for my students. Most have to learn on mobile phones,” she says. “It’s not easy. I hope the vaccine can help get children back into school so they can learn and achieve more… and be with their friends.” 

In July, Badung Regency prepared to reopen a primary school as a test case. The school was located in a so-called ‘green zone’ - an area which is considered low risk for COVID-19 transmission. 

“With our teachers vaccinated and strict health protocols in place, we are ready to see if we can open schools safely,” says Wayan Koper, a senior education official in Badung. “Without the vaccine, and all our teachers being vaccinated, we wouldn’t dare open our schools,” he adds. 

UNICEF and partners are making COVID-19 vaccines available to countries across the world, including Indonesia, through COVAX - an international scheme to provide fair access to vaccines.