Our Localised Approaches to COVID-19
Lisa Henry, Volunteer Writer
We cannot summarise the last year without mentioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created unprecedented global challenges for many institutions and schools. As the pandemic unfolds, the Foundation has no longer been able to deliver programmes through our traditional model or work face-to-face with teachers in the field.
In 2020, we adapted our programme in many ways, some of which included creating academic work booklets and distributing them into the hands of children who could not attend school, training teachers through virtual platforms and distributing data packs to provide internet connectivity and access to resources. Although it was a difficult year, we are proud of our achievements in each of our countries and look forward to continuing and developing these successes in 2021.
Below is a more detailed overview of the initiatives across our main programme geographies that have been developed in response to local demands and that will continue to grow and reach more children this year.
The pandemic has been particularly difficult in Colombia, where approximately 50% of the population still does not have access to the Internet and the government is limited in providing alternatives (Peoples Dispatch, 2020). To provide access to digital content, we have launched the Cambiando el Chip and E-scuela initiatives where sim cards and app licenses are donated to teachers and families to provide access to internet connectivity and digital content. More academic work packs will also be distributed this year to help children with their numeracy and literacy skills to ensure children can continue developing these crucial skills where technology is unavailable in the home.
For South Africa’s most disadvantaged children, schools are a safe place for children and their key source of nutrition as part of their 1 meal-a-day policy. In addition to providing academic work books, we have partnered with a local charity to help those children to receive their basic meals alongside their learning. We have also partnered with MindJoy and distributed numeracy and literacy playdough packs to children’s homes to inspire more creative ways of engaging with learning. Ahead of schools re-opening, our team are preparing sanitation kits and training on the importance of good hygiene practices, so when schools do re-open, students can safely share tablets.
Humanitarian crises and political upheaval in Lebanon has further complicated access to education in the country. With the impact of the Beirut explosion on the 4th of August, much of Lebanon’s already stretched resources as a result of COVID, were refocused to address the impacts of the explosion. In an effort to support already vulnerable communities, we launched the mini-tented school to run morning and afternoon classes for different groups of children to continue accessing education in a safe COVID regulated environment. This will continue to be accompanied with hygiene kits that are being distributed to our settlement communities and academic work books which are being distributed to partner schools. We also plan to build our first Breteau Foundation primary School in West Bekaa which will provide much needed formal education for Lebanese and Syrian children.
There have been many opportunities seized despite the challenges presented to the Foundation. With a targeted focus on these initiatives and on expanding our reach, we are looking forward to a great year of implementing a more holistic approach to learning that provides greater educational access and welfare to some of the most disadvantaged children. Again, we want to thank all of our school partners, teachers and parents who have worked tremendously hard in the last year and we all look forward to another year of successful collaborations.
You can read more about our Covid response initiatives in our latest Impact Report.