The COVID-19 crisis has deprived 1.53 billion children of education worldwide (UNESCO). In our intervention areas, the 2,000 schools we work with have all closed, and our 1.2 million beneficiaries have all been impacted. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Aide et Action has been adapting and innovating its activities in the field to meet the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations. But the objective of our response plan is broader: to limit the impact of the Coronavirus on education.
The effects of the current health crisis are threatening on the one hand, the progress made in recent years in terms of education, as well as the chances of achieving the objectives set by the United Nations 2030 Agenda (SDG4), and on the other, COVID-19 further weakens populations living in great precariousness. This is why Aide et Action takes a multidimensional two-phase approach. The first consists of responding to the immediate needs of the communities and ensuring educational continuity, despite schools closure. The second phase will focus on a long-term approach aimed at limiting the negative effects of this crisis on the educational future of the communities we support.
Adapt to better protect
In our countries of intervention, our teams do their utmost to meet the needs of those who need them most. Hygiene awareness campaigns, installation of sanitary stations, distribution of first aid kits, food support, or online learning, many activities have been developed in India, Togo, Cambodia, and Romania.
On the educational level, Aide et Action is nonetheless concerned about the lasting effects of the pandemic on the education of children, especially for those from ethnic minorities, with disabilities or living in a disadvantaged environment for whom, a prolonged absence from school significantly increases the risk of dropping out of school. UNESCO estimates that 25% of children are at risk of dropping out of school permanently after the crisis.
Focus on the long term
This is why, after this time of emergency, we must now adopt a more sustainable approach. The effects of this crisis are very likely to spread over the coming months, which risks further weakening the most vulnerable communities. This is why the second phase of the response plan is part of a broader perspective. Our objective is to anticipate and fill the main gaps exacerbated by the crisis, such as the educational development gaps of children or the increase of internal and external migrations of young people. Aide et Action also plans to develop its accelerated learning programs and remedial classes to minimize the risk of children dropping out of school after the crisis has passed. Populations already marginalized by geographic remoteness, disability, gender, or ethnicity will receive the necessary material and psycho-social support to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on their future.
Aide et Action works with local authorities, governments, NGOs and other organizations to ensure that the rights of children continue to be respected, even in times of crisis.