International Day of Education: UNICEF supports the opening of schools and the promotion of new ways of learning!
In Madagascar, 2 out of 3 children will not be able to complete their primary education. The precarious economic situation – where families bear almost 40% of the recurrent costs of the education system – and the COVID-19 pandemic make it even more difficult to access quality education. This day is a reminder that challenges remain, being closely akin with this year’s theme "Changing course, transforming education".
The opening of schools is crucial
At the beginning of 2022, the start of school for the second quarter is postponed due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. “Almost two years of pandemic and education-related measures are always rushed through without any real projection. Children have trouble finding their bearings and I deplore the near non-existence of accompanying measures in learning,” says Antsasoa, mother of two children aged 7 and 4. “In addition to acquiring knowledge, my children could at least have their daily meal ration by going to school. It's been hard for me to make ends meet since they have not gone to school,” says Saraha, whose 7 and 11-year-old daughters attend one of the capital's public primary schools.
School closures aggravate educational inequalities by accelerating the school dropout of children in difficulty. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics in 2020, more than 50% of households in the poorest quintile did not undertake any educational activity during school closures, whereas this rate was only 15% as regards households in the richest quintile. For Saraha, like many parents and children, going back to school is a window of hope, since education is, for the child, accompanied by other basic services such as access to drinking water and hygiene, as well as psychological support.
“Education is one of the priorities of UNICEF, which is continuing with negotiations in order to maintain these gains and develop better strategies for greater inclusiveness,” stressed UNICEF. Since 2020, the joint collaboration between UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the International Labour Office – funded by Norway – have enabled 119,000 children to benefit from school meals in three intervention areas in the South, while 57,100 children outside of school benefited from refresher courses to be reintegrated into the education system. These children are spared for at least one school year. Also with Norway’s support, data collection activities are being set up to make the link between the absenteeism of pupils and teachers with the absence of school canteens, as the effects of migration-related drought in the south. For 2022, the Ministry of National Education is targeting more than 2,000 schools to adopt the system and thus to ensure the continuity of education.
Priority to other ways of learning
When schools reopened, the establishments opted for alternating courses, in addition to respecting barrier gestures, hand washing devices and the disinfection of classrooms. “These measures will not be enough because we will have to find a solution to address the learning needs,” says Gilberte, mother of a 17-year-old girl in final year of high school. Increasingly, the use of new technologies is being considered to complete programmes and rethink education. There is a long way to go because out of 10 Malagasy children, only one has access to the Internet today. In addition, the situation is accentuated by regional disparity, as is the case of Androy where Internet access is provided to less than 2% of children. Equipping and training teachers can therefore be a first step.
UNICEF, with the support of the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education or GPE, as part of the pandemic response plan, is working with UNESCO and the Ministry of National Education on the acquisition and distribution of 10,000 tablets to teachers. These materials will contain a variety of educational content, including interactive courses, tutorial videos and extracts from radio broadcasts to facilitate learning and optimize class schedule. This distribution to the various school districts will be preceded by teacher training. “Teachers are the primary contributors to the collective well-being and development of children. They deserve all the support they need to carry out their tasks,” says Jessica, a primary school teacher.
A propos d'UNICEF
L’UNICEF travaille dans les endroits les plus inhospitaliers du monde pour atteindre les enfants les plus défavorisés. Dans 190 pays et territoires, nous travaillons pour chaque enfant, partout, afin de construire un monde meilleur pour tous.