Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, going to school gave children in Kenya a safe and supportive learning environment, with access to free school meals and other services. Yet today, as classrooms remain closed, children continuing their education from their Kibera homes are grappling with problems such as intermittent power and limited space to play or exercise.
Home to up to a million people (estimates vary), Kibera is Africa's largest informal settlement. Unemployment and poverty levels are high, with many residents living on less than a dollar a day. A lack of basic services, including running water and health care, and the close proximity of makeshift homes make Kibera an especially challenging place for children to live.
In total, over 18 million students in Kenya have been affected by the closure of schools. An extended period of closure will impact children’s wellbeing and have a long-term impact on inequality, as the most vulnerable families may not send children back to school.
“UNICEF is focusing on providing the most vulnerable children with access to learning, including those in informal settlements, refugees, and children with disabilities,” UNICEF Kenya Chief of Education Marilyn Hoar says. “We are supporting out-of-classroom learning on radio, TV and online, and informing parents how to access lessons. We are also preparing guidelines for the safe reopening of schools.”