Continued learning for 60,000 children in Uganda during COVID-19

May 4, 2020

Children  in school learning on tablets in Oeganda
In collaboration with four partner organisations, we are providing learning and psychosocial support to over 60,000 children from refugee and host communities in Uganda during the coronavirus pandemic.

With an investment of more than US$500,000 by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) - a global fund for education in emergencies - the Education Consortium (made up of Save the Children, War Child Holland, Humanity & Inclusion, ZOA and Finn Church Aid) is stepping in while schools are closed and movement is restricted.

COVID-19 has spread to almost every African country - including Uganda, which has now registered 83 confirmed cases. In response, the government has closed all schools and banned public gatherings to reduce the risk of transmission. This is impacting upon some 15 million children and youth - 10 million in primary schools, two million each in pre-primary and secondary schools and 314,000 students in university and tertiary institutions.

Upholding basic needs

‘Our work here in Uganda is focused on supporting the most vulnerable children, families and communities in the areas where we work to ensure their basic needs - including education and psychological wellbeing are met and that their safety and dignity is maintained in the midst of this devastating crisis,’ says Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, War Child’s Country Director in Uganda.

Working with the broader consortium, War Child is now specifically focusing on ensuring children can keep learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes:

  • Adapting our tablet-based Can’t Wait to Learn literacy and numeracy education programmes, which we have successfully piloted in Ugandan schools
  • Distributing 38,000 learning kits to help children to study at home
  • Providing classes by radio and holding interactive call-in sessions
  • Guiding parents and caregivers on how to help their children learn from home
  • Supporting the most vulnerable children with disabilities to keep learning through personal home visits from inclusive education specialists. The children will also be supported to access critical rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Counselling and support helpline

The project is also providing critical mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) via a counselling and support helpline in four districts. These are staffed by social workers who can refer cases to qualified counsellors and other services as required. Over 90 calls have already been made in recent weeks, ranging from simple questions to seeking support with cases of violence and domestic abuse.

Through the project, we are sharing simple and clear messages on COVID-19, hand washing and protection, how to take care of children, and how to support children’s education at home. We are providing indoor games such as puzzles and blocks as well as art materials such as drawing books, pencils and crayons. We will also equip schools with more soap and places to wash hands for when the children can safely return to school.

The funding is part of an initial $23 million global package from Education Cannot Wait to 26 countries or emergency contexts.