Lower and higher institutions of learning are opening up for educational activities in the COMESA region as the bloc begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions. So far, schools in Egypt, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been opening from the month of August, September and some are set October.
Governments in the respective countries have introduced accompanying measures which the primary, secondary and universities must strictly follow in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in learning institutions.
According to the latest COVID-19 Situational Update compiled by the COMESA Early Warning System (COMWARN) experts, the pandemic has had a negative impact on the schools as most Member States closed the learning institutions as a way of containing the spread of the virus.
“All sectors such as the pre-primary, primary, secondary, technical, vocational education, training institutions and universities were closed as a measure to contain the spread of the Coronavirus,” the report says.
This prolonged closure has led to consequences such as unemployment, disruption of curriculum implementation, interruption of health and psycho-social support such as counseling and mentoring, an upsurge of teenage pregnancies and disruption of the school fees paying scheme whereby funds allocated to support needy students are diverted to other needs.
In Zambia, schools started re-opening on 14 September and will continue through to 28 September for both examination and non-examination classes. Universities and colleges will join in from 28 September 2020. Measures that have been put in place to protect the learners include wearing of masks, provision of sanitizers, checking temperatures when entering school premises, observance of social distancing in classes, depending on student population, availability of class rooms and staffing situation, shifts may be introduced and there is an adjustment of the school calendar.
The DRC opened the primary, secondary and universities from 10th August and measures introduced include:- wearing of masks, provision of sanitizers, checking of temperatures when entering school premises and observance of social distancing in classes.
For Egypt, the government plans to open the schools beginning 17 October with adherence to measures such as pupils to carry their own meals and water, temporary COVID-19 isolation rooms established in schools, regular disinfection of school buses, social distancing in classes, teachers and other subordinate staff to have their temperature checked before entering or leaving the school. In addition, awareness posters have been placed strategically in all classes.
In Kenya, plans are underway to start re-opening learning institutions in October