We are now living times of uncertainty. We feel we have a vast information that makes us feel we don’t know anything. It’s everywhere and at any time of the day. On the streets, newspapers, between neighbours or colleagues, while eating… it is unavoidable.
17th of March. I was travelling by car on the way to Kyaka II, a refugee settlement that hosts thousands of refugees mainly coming from the Republic Democratic of Congo. The radio is on, and the debate between some journalists is just one more thing that tries to add more information into the international debate regarding Covid-19. This debate is somehow paraphrased by my colleague and me. We don’t know much but we have an opinion, a similar opinion, but different. This virus was still far from us, zero cases here, but Uganda is already feeling it. We arrived to FCA office, and it was my first time there. I was introduced to everyone. No shaking hands, or that is what were told, but again the virus was still far. We all rushed up back to the car, and it was time distribute the scholastic material around the schools, as it happens everything beginning of term.
18th of March. It was my second day attending a training run by FCA. I need some context. I felt I was learning a lot from one highly experienced woman whose role was to facilitate a training to refresh the teacher’s knowledge on AEP, Accelerated Education Program. The program enables learners that have been out of the school and their ages does not correspond with the educational level, to complete Primary School. This woman, who has already retired, caught the attention of everyone in the room with her expertise, her songs, activeness, methods or stories. But especially, with her passion for education. She was inspiring and insightful.
19th of March. It was Thursday and the content of that day was about to conclude. As soon as the concluding remarks were given, a teacher turned on the TV. The president was addressing the country regarding measures to stop Covid-19. School were said to be closed and all the educational institutions would not be running for the next month. As it happened a few days ago in the car, we don’t know much but we all have an opinion. Everyone had something to say. Teachers won’t be back in school this Monday.
From this point on, many questions concerning education were brought up. Would this training continue Friday and Saturday? How are learners going to understand the new situation? Is the school going to re-open in a month? Can students register for the ‘end of primary school exam’? What about the scholastic material? it was just given; would it be distributed next term, or will they use the same material? And the rest of the projects, they need to stop, right? How is everyone going to cope with all the children at home? Is distance learning an option in this context? Measures such us washing hands often, is this realistic in a context of crisis? Is Covid-19 like Ebola? Is it worse? Would it reach Uganda? And what then?
”With cooperation and mutual support, more than ever, we can move forward and face the challenges that are still yet to come.”
Well, Uganda might seem far, but these questions might ring the bell in any educational context in any part of the world. This are only some questions that came to my mind or that have been brought up, regarding education. However, questions to be considered are far beyond the above mentioned. It is true that consequences regarding the new situation may vary depending on the context, but some questions remain the same. And they all follow the same logic: it is very uncertain for everyone.
Thus, in order to ensure educational quality a co-operational response need to be given. And I would like to cite here UNESCO’s response: “Education must be ensured when so many children today cannot go to school. It is a stark reminder of the importance of quality, reliable information, at a time when rumours are flourishing. It tells about the power of culture & knowledge to strengthen human fabric and solidarity, at a time when so many people around the world must keep social distance and stay at home”. With cooperation and mutual support, more than ever, we can move forward and face the challenges that are still yet to come.