Almost everywhere, school and university activities are starting up again. We've come a long way. At the beginning of April, more than 1.5 billion students, or 94% of the world's people in school or studying, were at the school gate. Today, the percentage has dropped to 50% due to the covid crisis.
These reopenings are an emergency, even in difficult conditions. It's a balancing act, but good practices are taking hold everywhere. Innovations are emerging, yet problems and huge disparities remain.
Access to covid testing and care are not the same for all populations, and in some cases it is not free and expensive. In Myanmar, for example, because of this, they are inaccessible to the poor, of whom there are many. In West Africa, the daughter of a friend who was ill was prescribed chloroquine. Today she is cured. Is it due to this medicine or to something else? It's hard to know. In any case, she is out of the woods and has been able to return to school. It should also be noted that the use of phytotherapeutic treatments based on Artemisia is also growing strongly in these countries. Demand in Togo, for example, has exploded, as has the learning of how to grow such plants that everyone could grow at home.
Teaching spaces are overcrowded in many places, to the point where it can be difficult to enter some African secondary school classes. But learning must take place even if the precautions and sanitary distances due to the Covid health crisis, which are absolutely necessary, are sometimes impossible to keep strictly.
But, is there not the possibility of using online courses or other web-based devices?
On-line teaching (internet, ZOOM, webinars, etc.) has become commonplace in all countries. There are a huge number of initiatives that are emerging for learning via digital technology. Even if such means are spreading and are increasingly accessible to all, investments in computer equipment, connections and bandwidth must be made to prevent children from the poorest families from being left behind once again. Another challenge is to ensure that the growth of the online world does not disproportionately increase the amount of time children spend on screens. They need face-to-face learning with adults who come to their side, learning that requires the full activity of head, heart and body to become truly human. In many parts of the world, this is to make up for the most basic health and nutritional deficiencies, as school or extracurricular learning places are the only places where this is provided.
Ensuring that the pandemic does not increase social inequalities, and that the crisis does not turn into a "generational catastrophe" (Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General) are two major challenges for every educator, for every parent, in every country of the world.