Girls at increased risk of not returning to school
Like Ebola, COVID-19 shows that closing schools and education institutions heightens the vulnerability of women and girls.
Development partners and education ministries across Africa have hailed the leadership of the AU with the launch of the #AfricaEducatesHer campaign.
Continental action is needed to galvanize all stakeholders working to safeguard girls’ right to education and to spur collaboration and the sharing of best practices that promote the continuity of girls’ education in Africa.
During the launch, Justin Sass, Chief, Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality at UNESCO, stressed: “We need to engage with teachers and school directors so they can understand what’s happened during the school closures and what are some of the things that girls’ have gone through, and the challenges they are going to need to address once kids come back to school.”
Development partners like the Global Partnership for Education, UNESCO and FAWE will need to play an integral role in supporting governments and community efforts to get girls back to school through more and better education financing, including supporting countries to improve domestic financing and provide teacher training.
As governments face triple economic shocks from COVID (declining national budgets, reduced donor funding and households pushed further into poverty), there is a risk of smaller budgets for education, including girls’ education.
The time to act is NOW and that’s why AU-CIEFFA is supporting the GPE led global movement to #RaiseYourHand to #FundEducation so #AfricaEducatesHer in times of COVID and beyond.
AU Member states that are also yet to ratify and domesticate regional and international legal instruments that allow girls access to education must act now to ensure decades of progress made by the continent towards the empowerment of girls’ and women through education does not go down the drain and that all girls’ return once schools reopen.
The #AfricaEducatesHer campaign calls on ministries responsible for education across member states to take official pledges and recommit to supporting and safeguarding girls’ rights, particularly to education.
A call to action for girls’ education post-COVID
In closing remarks, Dr. Mahama Ouedraogo urged those in attendance to work together in a scalable and impactful way at grassroots and community level to achieve goal 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Aspiration 6 of the AU Agenda 2063.
“We should synergistically formulate and implement relevant strategies and initiatives that put particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable groups, in the remote areas, with disabilities and crisis situations, especially, girls and young women, particularly when designing catch-up strategies for all learners as schools re-open.” he said.
The AU/CIEFFA also announced a call for creative content asking African girls, students, human rights defenders and teachers to submit videos, blog articles, poems, photos and music showcasing their experiences with learning or teaching during COVID-19 & the initiatives they are taking to ensure girls in their local communities go back to school.