Back To School

October 26, 2020

The government has ordered all the Form 4, Standard 8 and Standard 4 classes to resume physical learning. The rest of the classes will probably resume next year. The group that resumed is critical as regards the academic calendar because these students have final exams coming up at the beginning of next year. The Form 4’s will be finishing Secondary School and these students will then attend college; the Standard 8 class will be joining Secondary School, and the Standard 4 will be joining Senior School.

As physical learning resumes, the students are happy to go back to school after 7 months at home due to the corona virus. Though the pandemic continues, the schools opened their doors to students who are soon sitting their exams. The remainder have been kept home in an effort to observe social distancing and ensure the students are observing all of the safety health measures put in place.

As expected, there are challenges that the students will face as they resume school. Financially, many parents have lost their jobs, so they do not have a source of income. The situation is so dire that some parents do not even have money to give their children as transport to school and for buying personal supplies required by the schools. Tuition fees will be required once the students get back to school and many parents cannot afford to pay. The financial detriments have contributed to some children staying at home at the risk of discontinuing school. This is a big concern for the children and a huge struggle for the parents.

Some girls got pregnant during the long unanticipated holiday, and now that schools are opening up again, they find themselves at a crossroads. The number of girls who got pregnant was so alarming that the government had to intervene and ask parents and guardians to keep a keen eye on the girls and find constructive ways of engaging them during the holidays. This is where Valvisions Foundation stepped in with various activities to engage the girls constructively- activities like hiking, nature walks, mentorship sessions, Zumba, guidance and counselling. The girls were treated to lunch after each activity and were kept occupied and h appy. The girls looked forward to these activities, and freely shared with us stories about their experiences and challenges back home amidst the Covid 19 pandemic.

During the long holiday, we received reports that some girls from the Choice Club had gotten pregnant. We visited them to encourage them to stay positive and not to give up. One of these girls is very bright and always at the top in class. Her father, who is a single parent, was happy to have us mentor his daughter during this interim period; she recently delivered a baby boy. We visited with her and her extended family. She still has hopes of resuming school and finishing her studies. She is in Form 4, and the exams coming up are very crucial for her. She is, in the meanwhile, studying from home as she nurtures her baby. This challenge has unfortunately affected many of the girls; some got married during their absence from school and they will not continue with their education. It is very sad for a parent to pay tuition fees for a child only to have them drop out due to issues like pregnancy.

Domestic violence has also been on the increase and many homes have been broken into during the lock-down process. This has had a very negative impact on the children as they resume school. Many became depressed; some got to their breaking point and committed suicide. Schools are calling us back to resume the Choice Club mentorship programs to help some of these children cope with the challenges. As we prepare to go back to school, we hope we can be of significant help to the girls, so they can remain positive and focused to stay in school and prepare to sit their exams without too much anxiety or strain. We will also continue to mentor the girls in the informal settlements that have been part of our holiday mentorship program.

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