Governments in a number of countries are adding a new core element to general education. Along with Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic they are adding a new subject: Fear.
Last week, both Bolivia and Kenya announced cancellation of the entire school year… two countries with large populations of children from poor families.
Indeed, not only do the numbers not add, up, it makes no sense as to why they are closing down the schools. Kenya, with nearly 54 million people and a poverty rate of 36.1 percent, has registered just 492 coronavirus deaths or 0.00091 percent of its population.
Yet, the government has shut down its school system until at least January to stop the spread of the virus that has barely spread.
In Kenya in 2017, 21,584 people died of pneumonia,17,553 from malaria, 16,953 to cancer, and 8,758 to HIV/AIDS… and they didn’t lock down the nation and close the schools.
The mass closure affects more than 18 million students from pre-primary to high school, in addition to 150,000 students in refugee camps.
Universities are also off limits for all students. Those students with the computer capability will be able to continue virtual classes, however, Jackline Nyerere, Senior Lecturer of Educational Leadership and Policy at Kenya’s Kenyatta University, stated in an article on 12 May:
“Unfortunately, Kenya’s public universities aren’t ready to fully adopt e-learning. I found that some of the major challenges include instructors who don’t have the skills to teach; scarce electronic content; a lack of internet connectivity; limited access to computers; students with limited computer literacy, and frequent electricity blackouts.”
In Bolivia, interim president Jeanine Áñez announced the cancellation of the next school year entirely. Despite the lack of virtual classroom technology and availability to a large portion of the population, Ms. Anez said all students will graduate to the next grade anyway.
Bolivia has been trumpeted by the media as one of Latin America’s countries with the highest death rates from COVID.
To date, there have been 3,200 virus fatalities in a country of 11 million people or 0.0316 percent of its population.
Unmentioned in the media is the population-to-virus ratio compared to more “advanced” nations of equal size, such as Belgium, where schools have re-opened despite having registered nearly three times as many coronavirus deaths.
TRENDPOST: Protests and demonstrations have again broken out across Bolivia, blockading some of the country’s main roads in rebuke of the interim government of Jeanine Áñez’s decision to again postpone the presidential election until October and economic devastation caused by the lockdown.
In the Trends Journal, we have written extensively about the political disturbances and protests in Bolivia following the forced resignation of former president Evo Morales last year in the following articles:
- POLITICAL INTRIGUE
- LOOTING THE LITHIUM
- CIVIL WAR LOOMING?
- COUNTRY IN CHAOS
- MORE OF THE SAME, DIFFERENT LEADER
- WHEN IS “ENOUGH” ENOUGH?
It is the same with Kenya and other nations across the globe where people were rioting last year in protest of the lack of basic living standards, government corruption, crime, and violence. (See our 2020 Top Trend, “NEW WORLD DISORDER.”)
Starting with Beijing, which locked down the Hong Kong protests following the outbreak of the virus in January – that they were unable to do prior to the “outbreak,” which has killed under 5,000 Chinese to date – so, too, have other nations across the globe used the virus to stop the protests.
Bolivia’s struggle with reopening its schools is being seen throughout most of Latin America, from Argentina up to Mexico. Governments cite the 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 throughout the region. (Note: Those 200,000 deaths, when compared to the huge Latin American population of over 655 million, amounts to a death rate of 0.03 percent.)
TRENDPOST: A look at the hard data coming from Denmark, Austria, and Germany, which reopened schools back in April and May, shows no substantial increase in new virus cases.
The Fear had been that although children and young teens who contracted the virus have little chance of getting sick or dying, they would transmit the disease to older and more vulnerable family member at home.
But that hasn’t happened.
Science Magazine published an article on 7 July: “School openings across globe suggest ways to keep coronavirus at bay, despite outbreaks.”
Denmark led the way, the first government to cite a children’s right to education as outweighing fears of the coronavirus. They took safety measures that are working: smaller classes, desks further apart, required hand washing every few hours, and classes held outdoors when possible. Masks are not required.
As of late June, two months after the re-start, Denmark reports no increases in infections.
Now over 20 countries have re-opened schools. An open letter published 17 June signed by over 1,500 members of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health stated the continued closing of schools was “scarring the life chances of a generation of young people.”
The letter pointed to lower-income children who depend on school meals to eat, parents unable to keep working and providing childcare at home, and increased child abuse as school staff were unable to report early signs.