Calling on Africa to ensure girls go back to school post COVID-19 closures
With schools reopening across Africa after the COVID-19 related closures, the African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa (AU/CIEFFA) launched #AfricaEducatesHer, a campaign to bring awareness to the issues hindering girls and women from accessing education during the COVID-19 pandemic and a rallying call to take positive action now to guarantee girls returning to school as they gradually reopen.
As schools begin to reopen across Africa after the COVID-19 related school closures, the African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa (AU/CIEFFA) is turning its focus to ensuring African girls return to school.
Educational systems across the AU Member States have seen significant disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is growing data and evidence that some measures taken for continuity of learning during the pandemic have in fact aggravated inequalities related to teaching and learning.
The pandemic heightened existing inequalities
While many governments in the continent turned to the internet, radio and television to provide remote learning for students during the school closures, limited internet access and hardware availability, both needed for distance learning, have left many girls without access.
Even before the global pandemic hit, only 17.8% of households in Africa had internet access at home and the continent accounts for only 21% of worldwide internet users. Africa also has a digital gender gap, with a 33.8% internet penetration rate for men and only 22.6 % for women in 2019.
In a COVID context, the reality means many girls simply do not have access to remote learning options, including through digital pathways. In addition to unequal access to technology, shuttered schools leave girls at increased risk of violence, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, exploitation and child labor.