School's Out .... yet again
Elspeth Dugdale | August 17, 2021
School's (Still) Out for Summer ... Lockdown.... yet again. Here in the UK - despite the weather - it is officially summertime; school’s ‘out’ and it’s still holiday time. In Uganda, it’s the end of the rainy season and schools should be ‘in’ at the moment, yet they’re most definitely not.
Rising Delta variant Covid rates in Uganda during late May/early June brought about another lockdown, so all schools closed again in June. Sadly, few classes were back in school at the time anyway. Even more sadly, most primary and all nursery children have had zero school time for 17 months. However, within all the difficult and challenging news, there are some surprising opportunities to act differently and think differently.
Once more it is a question of 'what CAN' be done, rather than dwelling on what can't be done.
1 Lockdown prevents very many from working or travelling as usual, so the poorest people quickly run out of food & basic supplies. Due to the generous donations of many friends and supporters, ServeDirect has restarted community food distributions to the most vulnerable, the elderly & the sick - about 140 Lukomera & Katikamu households. In total this helps over 1000 people each time, providing short-term relief during lockdown. It may be 'sticking plaster' aid again, but it is arguably essential for a minority, for now.
2 As there is no government support in Uganda, ServeDirect is still assisting Wobulenzi Town Academy (WTA), to provide a mini ‘furlough’ style scheme to help its staff, so that they can provide for their own families and stay in teaching. Once again, thanks to all who have played a part in this. - it really is invaluable. We continue to fundraise for this. The sad truth is that many other private schools have closed and many other teachers have left the profession over the last year - purely due to lack of income.
3 Up in Gulu, even though schools are closed again, the innovative Connect Centre and READ for Life teams are taking sessions outside meeting with small groups of neighbourhood children. Unsurprisingly, some kids really prefer the small groups of 10-12 (instead of 70+!) and are loving the reading/story writing/numeracy opportunities. These groups literally help to keep the learning flame burning while there’s no official school for now. More of this in the accompanying article from Jody in Gulu.
Small steps perhaps, but certainly brilliant and creative steps at such a difficult time.