I want to wish all our supporters a very Happy New Year and take this opportunity to express our heart-felt thanks and gratitude for your unstinting support during a very difficult time.
This Sunday (24th January) marks UNESCO’s International Education Day, an important day in our calendar. As we look forward to a New Year and hopefully some return to normality as the vaccination programme gets underway, we take a moment to reflect on the unprecedented scale of global interruption to education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This disruption to primary, second and tertiary education has affected the lives of some 1.6 billion children in over 190 countries.
Children in low income countries, such as those where we support our education programmes, have been more severely impacted by this interruption. According to UNESCO, earlier this year children in the developing world hade lost nearly four months’ of schooling compared to six weeks in high-income countries. Without access to education, the poorest children are neglected and greatly exposed to the effects of poverty and abuse.
The crisis shinesa light on social, economic and digital inequalities which have hampered children’s access to education worldwide during the lockdowns and highlights what UNESCO observes as “the centrality of education for every society, as a public common good and the bedrock of social cohesion, wellbeing and opportunity”.
These words strongly echo our core mission; at World Villages for Children we are passionate advocates for education as a catalyst for reducing poverty and removing barriers to social mobility and equality.
We are immensely proud that our partners, the Sisters of Mary, have shown an unwavering commitment to ensuring continuity in all their education programmes around the world, despite the immense challenges that the pandemic has presented. With the exception of a minor interruption to the programme in Tanzania for a few months, all the schools remained open and functioning for the 20,000 children in our care.
Despite nearly all the teaching staff having to leave the schools due to COVID restrictions, the Sisters worked hard to replace the face-to-face teaching with weekly lesson plans and activities delivered virtually. As a result, all our boys and girls were able to keep learning and continue with their preparations for national exams. The school in Brasilia, for example, was the only school able to maintain classes every day. Quite an an achievement to be celebrated.
With your support, The Sisters have done incredible work in order to welcome new children in need of care and keep all the children safe from the virus. They have implemented strict protocols at all the schools to ensure maximum safety. This has meant that not one of our 20,000 children has contracted the virus to date.
Our students remain happy, healthy, in school and learning. The academic, vocational and social skills they are acquiring will hugely increase their employment chances in an uncertain world and give them hope for a better life for themselves and their families
By Nicola Lawson
UK Manager & Trustee
Children learning practical skills
Lessons have continued with teachers remotely teaching