Save the Children in a new report released on Monday said that eight in ten children surveyed said “they’ve learned little or nothing” during the COVID-19 lockdown in Afghanistan.
The report said that the children from the poorest households have missed out the most on education and face the highest risk of violence at home.
The report said that the Save the Children surveyed 351 children and their caregivers as well as 129 respondents from the general public via social media, as part of a wider global survey on the impact of COVID-19 on children’s lives.
The Afghanistan survey revealed:
· Two-thirds (64%) of the children surveyed had no contact with teachers at all, during lockdown.
· Eight in ten children believed they had learned little or nothing since schools closed.
· Less than 1 in every 20 children (4.6%) had at least one daily check-in with a teacher.
· 3 in every 10 (30%) children reported some violence at home during COVD19 lockdowns while for caregivers it was 1 in every 4 caregivers (26%)
· One in three households in rural areas had difficulties accessing learning materials compared to one in five households in the urban areas.
The report noted that Afghan children and their families are already dealing with the impact of decades of conflict.
The pandemic has only “made life harder and more dangerous”, It said, adding: “This is especially true for Afghan girls.”
Meena, an 11-year-old girl in Nangarhar province said: “COVID-19 has changed my life. I am again not able to go to school. I had gotten a chance to go to school for the first time and then COVID-19 changed everything..”
“The impact of COVID-19 is huge in our life, we live under a tough situation. There is no proper food and medicine to survive. Since the outbreak, we haven’t had three meals in a day because my father can’t make enough money to provide us with enough food. Whenever we get sick, we can’t visit doctors due to poverty,” she said.
Violence at home doubled when schools were closed. The reported rate was 17% compared to 8% when schools were open and the child was able to attend in person.
The findings were launched on September 10th in a new report, Protect A Generation: The Impact of COVID-19 on Children’s Lives. The report is based on the largest ever global survey of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared six months ago. Some 25,000 children and their caregivers shared their experiences, fears and hopes during this unprecedented global crisis.
Save the Children is urgently calling for investment in education, health and nutrition, child protection services, mental health services and social safety nets like cash transfers for the most vulnerable.
Education has suffered greatly in Afghanistan due to conflict.
The report said that while some progress has been made in recent years, such as the passing of a new law last year which guarantees children equal access to education, many challenges remain.
Before COVID-19, 3.7 million children were already out-of-school and when schools closed due to the pandemic, nearly 10 million more lost access to education, it said.
The situation isn’t helped by inadequate public investment in schooling. Across public schools, a mere $196 is spent per primary-school-aged child, which is 78% below the average for the South Asia region, it added.
Save the Children’s research shows that across six Afghan provinces, just 28.6% of children can access distance learning programmes through TV, 13.8% through radio programming, and 0.2% through the internet.
Girls have been more heavily impacted than boys by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 3.7 million children that were already out-of-school, 60% are girls.