African Union special envoy and pan-African businessman Strive Masiyiwa has joined calls for children to go back to school following the closure of schools in Africa and much of the world, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Children should now return to school.
The other day I called a dear friend who runs a major UN Agency.
“What’s on your mind, Strive?” she asked.
“This is tough for me; but I think it’s time to get our kids back to school. The cost of a generation not in school will be far worse than this virus. We will end up with child soldiers.”
Today I am glad to see that the UN and WHO have called for kids in Africa to return to school. I don’t think I had anything to do with, it but I’m all in on this one!
I am one of the 270 global leaders who signed a similar call to the G20 this week, calling on them to act quickly to get kids back to school.
It has not been easy for me to reach this conclusion but it is something I have been reflecting on deeply for a while. And I have read a lot on it.
Based on what we now know about the pandemic, it is best to let all children return to school.
We have to be careful to protect both children and teachers. And certainly teachers who are either elderly or have underlying health problems should be given a medical waiver by a doctor, and wait for the vaccine. Similarly with children who are asthmatic, diabetic, obese, and so forth. We can then focus on how to help this smaller group with online classes.
Parents who have underlying health problems will have to be separated from their children, as well as grandparents.
Free masks, gloves and sanitizers should be distributed to teachers.
There will have to be strict procedures around singing, shouting, etc.
We can put procedures in place. Every day children must be checked for temperatures, etc.
There are no easy choices and this is tough, particularly if you are a parent.
In Africa, we don’t have the capacity to provide education online except, for kids from wealthy homes. In Asia, Europe, and America they have kept children learning from home using computers. Ours in Africa are doing nothing, and it is hurting them badly. And besides, they are playing with each other at home in our crowded townships anyway. So, let them just go back to school.
I think governments should immediately plan to get kids back to school. Masks should now be part of the mandatory school uniform, expected of every child.
Every child must also carry a soap for washing hands.
We can do it!
Let’s get kids back to school.