In the remote and northern province of Lai Chau, eight-year-old primary school student Ma Thi Mai Huong is currently enjoying her summer holidays and looking forward to a new school year on 1 September 2021. Like many students in her school, Mai hopes that the current Covid-19 outbreak will be contained by then so the school can resume as planned.
Since March 2020, Mai’s school closed for 4.5 months due to Covid-19 prevention measures. During this time, Mai’s only access to education was via occasional home visits from her teacher. Without access to the internet, a smartphone or a TV, distance-learning programmes remained out of reach for Mai and her younger brother during school closures.
Without the daily routine of schoolwork, Mai helped her parents more with household chores as well as took care of her brother while they worked in their rice fields nearby. While Mai’s responsibilities increased during the pandemic, she remained committed to learning and in the evening practiced her handwriting, allowing her brother to observe and learn from her.
As well as missing her lessons, Mai missed the friends and group activities she used to enjoy at school. “When I was in school, I participated many learning activities with my classmates like as playing games, work in pairs or individual work,” she says.
Since school closures, Mai’s grades have fallen. “I received higher marks before Covid-19 because I could ask teacher or my friends if I couldn’t understand the exercises,” explains Mai. “When my school closed, my father sometimes helped me with my homework but I prefer to go to school”.
To support students like Mai as well as families and teachers, Aide et Action is offering a holistic response which includes a variety of activities such as training on parenting, emergency food and hygiene materials, scholarships for students from low-income households, and extra classes for those who need to catch-up on missed education.
Currently, primary schools are scheduled to reopen for the new school year in early September but delays may occur if needed in response to the current Covid-19 crisis. To support schools and teachers during the current crisis, we are improving water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in rural schools and supplying hygiene supplies such as masks, soap, and hand sanitizer for students.