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School’s Open in Africa
News Bytes 11/17/2020 31 Comments

After months of delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, school has returned for students around the globe. But many parents in African countries are unable to pay for that privilege. They say their children will have to miss the new term.

Relief over the gradual reopening of schools is matched by concern over the financial strain caused by the pandemic—and over how to protect students in often crowded classrooms from the coronavirus.

Mike Ssekaggo is headmaster of Wampeewo Ntakke Secondary School near Uganda’s capital of Kampala. Parents at his school are scrambling to enroll their children for the first time since March.

School officials worry some children might not return to class because their parents have not been working, Ssekaggo says. Only about half of 430 students reported to school on the day after he began admitting them.

One cash-strapped mother asked to pay her child’s school tuition fees with bags of rice. Ssekaggo requested a sample, and then agreed.

In Uganda, authorities have set standards that schools must meet before they can admit students. Schools must have enough handwashing stations and enough room in classrooms and dorms for social distancing.

Although the pandemic has disrupted education worldwide, the crisis is most severe in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa already had the highest rates of children out of school anywhere in the world. Up to 80% of students on the continent don’t have access to the internet. That makes distance learning impossible for many.

As in Uganda, Kenya is implementing a phased reopening of schools. Students taking exams to move to upper grade school, high school, and college reported in October. The rest will return in January. But some schools have already reported outbreaks. There is widespread concern that schools reopened too early.

Zimbabwe reports similar challenges. More than 100,000 public teachers there have been striking since schools reopened. The instructors are demanding better pay as well as protective gear.

Authorities in Uganda and Kenya are not testing students for the virus before enrollment. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says, “We naturally expect there will be infections.”

Uganda’s Wampeewo Ntakke Secondary School had 1,800 students before the outbreak. Recently, officials at the gates took the temperatures of arriving students. Each was also required to bring at least two masks. Later, a nurse briefed them about safety.

“I think we are safe,” says student Sylvia Namuyomba, pondering the handwashing stations on the school’s lawns. Meanwhile, a stern-looking teacher wearing a face shield patrols the compound, rebuking students who even briefly remove their masks.

“We are just leaving it in prayer that by January there will be no COVID,” says teacher Vincent Odoi. “Otherwise, we won’t manage.” What a beautiful example of 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”!

(Schoolchildren play at the Olympic Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, as schools partially reopened to allow students to prepare for examinations. AP/Brian Inganga)

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Most recent comments

That's so sad, it's not like

That's so sad, it's not like they can really homeschool or do online classes at home, since they don't have much supplies for that I'm sure. I feel terrible, I will be praying for them.

2nd Comment

I feel bad for those kids. Now I know this may sound weird, but I actually LIKE school, so it is sad that these kids can't go. I know a lot of kids hate school, but learning is good for you. Anyway, I will be praying as well.

Riley D

Agreed. It can get tiring, but at the end of summer vacation I'm like "I just want something to do!!!" lol. I hope something can get figured out for these kids. :-(

this is Mylee

When I saw this article I was like yay their schools reopened ! But once i read it i relized that it is so sad.... I do hope that something can be figures out. Carys M , I know they don't have supplies or internet like we do :(

"Meanwhile, a stern-looking

"Meanwhile, a stern-looking teacher wearing a face shield patrols the compound, rebuking students who even briefly remove their masks." For real? Good grief, this is ridiculous...

this is Mylee


@Riley D

I love school too! And Carys, I'm bored starting at the beginning of summer vacation :-) :-)

I hope

I hope that everything will get back to normal.

read this!

my family and church are like family with the people that run this instatute (sorry for my spelling) called Gospel in Action and they go to malaowi Africa and live there for four months with peple who come over for two weeks and my mom is almost like a sister with the gal who gose over with her husband and her daughter and live in the same town as us and my mom helped plan out and fundraise for a school they are building! i mean it is just so cool that god works in so many people and evan in me ,my dad was the first one to go then my mom then my mom and i just this past year before covid 19 and we are hoping to go with our family and one of my cousins . i love how god let our families come together so we could help do his work i is just so cool to go and do gods work with people that you consider your family. they are hoping to open the school soon!!!

i'm glad i'm homeschooled

i'm glad i'm homeschooled

This is London

This is sad. I like school to well except math I have a hard time with it.hope it can get back to normal.

this is Mylee

how do you send links to articles thx

this is Mylee

how do you send links to articles thx

just get the website url and

just get the website url and paste it in the comment and then when someone elese sees it they can copy it and paste it into a search bar and find what you posted.

At times like this I'm glad

At times like this I'm glad to be homeschooled! But yes, I "don't like school" but then Summer comes and before Bible Bee starts I don't know what to do with myself xD


I like school, but sometimes it feels like a little much xD

this is Mylee

you do bible bee cool

TOTALLY off subject but...

how's school in Korea

7th comment in the world!!!!!!!

I would rather have online school (not zoom, please) than be in the classroom. I am not afraid of covid, but I would not want to wear a mask all the time.

7th comment in the world!!!!!!!

I would rather have online school (not zoom, please) than be in the classroom. I am not afraid of covid, but I would not want to wear a mask all the time.


Do you do Bible Bee?!

@Jill B

Wow!! That is so neat! I am glad that y'all do that!

23rd comment! P.S. This is Caro

It's so sad that that mom had to pay with rice since she doesn't have money :(

@ Mylee

In my Kindle Fire I just have to copy and the paste the link (URL) into the comment box. Then it turns blue when I post the comment. Like this:


LOL! i read the article you shared in the link. it's really funny!


sorry i put KL

this is Mylee

Thx KN. And N&M A we had bought the Bible Bee packets ! To memorize verses But didn't do it, we might do it next year. But probaly not the competitions bc i would be too scared lol


Oh you should!! The competition is amazing!! It's so much fun and everyone helps each other over the Social Community that you get access to when you register. They just released the rankings today and I got 48th place from the Summer Study and 46th place Nationally!


WAY TO GO NA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is London

Good job!! maybe if we do it we can see each other!!

Haha! Thanks xD It's really

Haha! Thanks xD It's really fun!! Yes! I hosted a bunch of study zoom meetings this year and it was so nice to meet kids my age xD

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