Photographer: Amiyo Chakma Home education project reaches children in remote parts of Bangladesh: UNICEF delivers pioneering initiative A UNICEF-supported home learning initiative in the remote south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh has made significant progress in offsetting the effects of a country-wide education lockdown implemented because of COVID-19. Normally early learning and pre-school activities in the area, predominantly inhabited by a wide variety of indigenous people groups, are carried out in one of about 4,300 Community – or Para – Centres that are located in the three districts that comprise the CHT. But the arrival of the COVID-19 has meant that these centres have been indefinitely closed, leaving children in the CHT no alternative but to study at home mostly without electricity and without the benefits of modern technology such as TV and the Internet. They are missing out on holistic development that is an essential part of their pre-school preparations. Sneha Chakma–from Rangamati district –is one of 1,500 children aged between three and five in the CHT who have recently been supplied with a home-based learning pack. Sneha said she would prefer to be at the Para Centre with her friends and teachers. “But at least we’re now able to draw, read, write and play more at home,” she added. The learning packs contain two months’ worth of curriculum that provide advice to parents on how to engage children at home with meaningful learning activities. “The curriculum has been adapted and modified from the existing Para Centres’ module which is already familiar to children,” said UNICEF-Chittagong Field Office Education Officer Afroza Yasmin. “The content is simple and geared specifically towards the children. It can be used at home by parents with minimum support from the Para Centres. “The learning calendar, which also includes some basic learning materials, helps children and their families cope wit

Coronavirus is the greatest threat to children since World War II

UNICEF UK released a briefing to ensure the UK Government and civil society understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children around the world. Eddie and Maham from the Youth Advisory Board have written a blog about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children and young people around the world.

 

With the pandemic causing huge disruption to our lives everywhere, this goes far beyond immediate health implications; indirect and direct effects threaten millions of children’s access to fundamental human rights.

Enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history, are 54 essential freedoms that all children are entitled to. It is our duty to help protect the rights of these children, in any way possible.

Eddie - third from left, and Maham - third from right, are members of Unicef UK's Youth Advisory Board
Eddie – third from left, and Maham – third from right, are members of UNICEF UK Youth Advisory Board.

Article 24 of the UNCRC states that every child has the right to the best healthcare possible. Immediately and by its very nature, the coronavirus pandemic presents a direct risk to children.

However, it has also disrupted access to essential health services and vital vaccines, and means families will struggle more than ever to afford adequate food to support children’s development.

This poses a huge threat to global progress on ending preventable child deaths, which decreased from 12.5 million deaths in 1990 to 5.3 million in 2018. Estimates from May 2020 show these disruptions could result in the deaths of 1.2 million more under-five children in 6 months.

In 2015, the UK government signed up to play its part in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals – but by disrupting access to life-saving services, Covid-19 has threatened years of progress that 193 countries have worked towards, endangering the fulfilment of these goals by 2030.

The lives of millions of children are at risk; if we don’t act now to protect children and their access to healthcare, an additional 6000 children could die every day for the next 6 months.

If we do act now, we could save these lives. If we do act now, we can protect a generation.

Souleman, from Côte d’Ivoire, painted his face with a mask to raise awareness about coronavirus.
Souleman from Côte d’Ivoire, painted his face with a mask to raise awareness about coronavirus.

 

“Physical distance does not mean emotional distance. We are separated by borders, oceans, nations, continents, but we are more connected than ever before.”

 

One unifying factor in this pandemic is education; the disruption of schools and classrooms has been felt all around the world. Fortunately in the UK, many of us were able to respond with various technologies to help facilitate learning from home during lockdown, such as video call, collaborative documents, and learning apps. And even then, our children and young people’s education suffered.

In parts of the world that were experiencing a learning crisis beforehand, the disturbance to education has had significant consequences for children.

When we consider school, our minds instantly focus on education, but what about the non-academic impacts of not being able to go to school? About half of schoolchildren in low- and middle-income countries receive food on a daily basis. For some, this is the only complete meal they receive.

School is also where children can access support; where child protection and safeguarding measures are in place and where children feel safe. Schools can help students who suffer from trauma, which will be important as families continue to experience bereavements as a result of the pandemic.

Sneha has been learning from home in Bangladesh during the coronavirus pandemic
Sneha has been learning from home in Bangladesh during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

As coronavirus cases decline and strides are made back towards reopening, as society we are given a choice: return to normal, to life as it was before, or build back better. Return to our previous normality or redefine its definition.

Reimagine our world. By strengthening policies, protecting healthcare and education for all children and young people worldwide, we can create a fairer, safer and better world.

All around the world, we face a common threat that puts the future of a generation at risk – so today, we are asking the UK Government to take action:

  • To recognise the impact of coronavirus on children and child rights
  • To protect children’s healthcare and education
  • To save lives

 


You can read more about UNICEF UK Youth Advisory Board’s work here as well as the guide they co-created to help children and young people in the UK understand the pandemic and the decisions being made.


Post a Comment