KIX Observatory: School Reopening in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic

10 August 2021
child with mask
Credit: GPE

The KIX Observatory has published its third synthesis report, “School Reopening in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This report contributes to the KIX Observatory’s efforts to gather emerging evidence on education policy and practice responses to COVID-19 in Africa to facilitate peer learning and inform decision-makers in the partner countries of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). 

The report’s focus on school reopening is timely. With many Sub-Saharan African countries struggling to meet the need for distance learning, school reopening presents an important opportunity to reach those vulnerable learners most at risk of not returning to school. The review of the policies and practices of 40 African GPE partner countries revealed that efforts to reopen schools have focused on four interrelated areas. These include: (1) frameworks for decision-making regarding the reopening; (2) back-to-school campaigns to encourage all learners to return; (3) health-related responses for school reopening; and (4) adaptations to learning after school reopening.

While action and progress have been possible, the report acknowledges the numerous challenges the region has faced as countries have been dealing with closures and reopenings of their schools during COVID-19. Inadequate funds and infrastructure to comply with public health measures and protocols, were just some of the cited examples, with fears about schoolchildren and teacher safety also threatening the school reopening process. Other challenges common across the region include:  the ability of schools to monitor student progress during school closures and after reopening, the growing financial burden of parents faced with fees to cover the additional expenses of preparing for safe reopening, as well as pre-existing policies that prevent the smooth reintegration of pregnant schoolgirls into school systems. 

Taking into account the region’s shared challenges, the report outlines a series of recommendations for national policymakers to mitigate the pandemic’s continuous effects, strengthen education system resilience, and support greater inclusion of vulnerable populations during school reopening. Find the full list of recommendations and the detailed report here

For more information on the KIX Observatory and how this platform contributes to global efforts to measure and respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on education, putting country experiences and research to use, visit their website.The KIX Observatory’s first report on education financing in Africa during the pandemic can be found here, and their second report on the well-being of schoolchildren during the pandemic can be found here. A live tracker of relevant education policy and practice responses in the region can be found here: https://bit.ly/3xsSdyX