When we think of distance learning during lockdown, the images that often spring to mind are interactive whiteboards, back-to-back digital lessons and a variety of personalised online programmes. In the situations where we work, there are many distinctive barriers to simply protecting and connecting with children during lockdown, let alone delivering effective learning opportunities, but our partners are rising to the challenge.
In slums and refugee camps, children are locked down in cramped conditions, with parents not furloughed or working from home, but totally cut off from the means to earn. Not only are children denied food and education, but they cannot access the child friendly spaces and social structures that are usually in place to keep them safe. Many organisations and media outlets have reported a steep escalation of violence towards children over lockdown.
In the first few months, our COVID-19 relief efforts quickly responded to immediate needs, providing over 10,000 essential food parcels to some of the most vulnerable households in Bangladesh, India, Lebanon and Uganda. As restrictions gradually ease, our focus is now turning to ensure safety and education for the children we work with.
With most of our Learning Centres shut down for months, and some expected to remain closed until next year, in every country where we work, our partners have been tenaciously and creatively maintaining their connection with children.
Whether on the doorstep, on the phone, through radio airwaves or in teacher’s own homes, we are ensuring that communities can maintain a protective environment for their children throughout this pandemic. We are incredibly grateful for the generous support we have received over this time, which has made it possible for us to stay connected to the children who are most on the edge.