“Back to school” looks radically different in 2020. For many, 2020 will mark the year they never return to school.
“Since people’s economic status has been severely affected by this Covid-19 virus, most of the parents over here are thinking whether they should send a child for begging and collecting rubbish and waste on the roadside. Since the children of the Gypsies began going to school with other community children, they have had some improvement in their life. At the same time, their parents are also learning some good habits from their children. I have advised them by way of counseling for their lives, especially in respect of education. They are all getting many benefits by way of going to school – particularly they are becoming very disciplined, and also they are becoming skilled. If they go for jobs in future, their poverty can be removed. It will cost $30 per child for them to go back to school after Covid-19. Without this help, they may not go to school again because of the cost. I do not want them to go back to their old life, since I find some good improvement in their life now.” ~Priya*, India
Priya has worked for over a decade with Gypsy and Tribal communities in her hometown in southern India. She is not alone in her concerns about the long term educational impact COVID-19 will have.
Due to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, a generation of children are at risk of losing their opportunity for education. Many families throughout the world who were already living hand to mouth, surviving on their daily wages, are now unable to send their children back to school. Where we work in South Asia, many schools have free tuition. However, families still have to pay for uniforms, school supplies, and books. This typically comes to between $30-$100 per year. For a family earning less than $2 per day before COVID-19, this was difficult but possible. During and after COVID-19, this is nearly impossible.
As our director Shalva* in Nepal says,
“The Covid-19 situation has financially put down almost every poor family who earns all their needs by selling their sweat and labour every day. During Covid-19 they had no work, no money, and no food. Somehow they survived through food packages distributed by the government, some other social organizations, and the Church. After the relief package was finished most of them have borrowed money or taken advance from neighboring people to buy food and survive, with the condition that they will fulfill the borrowed money through the labour work in their field. So in this situation they can’t send their children to school when they are able to return – rather, they will send their children for child labour…There are many families who are unable to send their children to school, but we have identified through our missionaries and partners children of the poorest of poor families. If additional funding is available, many more children would be able to be helped. If children are not going to school they will engage in child labour, addiction, child abuse, sexual abuse, and the family will always remain in the poorest of poor situation. So sending those children to school is crucial for helping them to come out from such a situation and poverty.
Several of our missionaries are identifying families that are making the decision to send their children to work instead of school. Depending on the region, a one time gift of $30-$100 will allow a child to attend school when their schools open this fall. By helping for this one year of school, you ensure a child does not miss out on their entire future education.