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Slum2School in Nigeria tries to prevent more slums’ children being out of school during the pandemic

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic forced schools in Nigeria, and in many countries across the globe, to close in March. Yet, Nigeria is a country where many children don’t have access to education -either because they have to work to help their families to survive, either because the schools are way too far to be reached by foot. With already 13 million children out of school according to the United Nations, COVID-19 threatens even more fragile futures.

Most at risk are those like Esther, growing up in Nigeria’s slums with few social safety nets. Esther lives in the Lagos’ favela of Makoko, has to pile two upturned buckets, place a handbag on top and rests a tablet against it. When her balancing act is finished, the 17-year-old is ready for school.

Esther Ikechukwu, a beneficiary of Slum2School project attends a virtual class from her home in Makoko, Lagos. Image credit Reuters/Nneka Chile

Authorities say schools could soon begin a phased reopening, but organisations like Slum2School have tried to fill the void somehow. It is a Lagos-based charity working across Africa to educate children growing up in poorer communities.

Since July, it has given tablets and laptops to teachers and pupils in the Makoko slum for live remote lessons - normally an unaffordable solution for the children.

Esther, who received a tablet and headset from the charity, said she had missed attending school very much until the charity stepped in.

“I am not missing (out),” she explained, adding that she was now in a better position than some other youngsters.

With 30 teachers, Slum2School educate almost 1,000 children. It is targeting 10,000 students by the end of 2020.

But the slum’s lack of power means difficulty charging electronics. Esther’s outdoor desk is a solution for the weak mobile signal indoors - she juggles between video and audio as the network drops.

Nigerian charity tries to salvage a slum's schooling amid pandemic Otto Orondaam, a social entrepreneur, teaches at a virtual class session prepared for resident students of slums and remote communities in Lagos. Image credit Reuters/Seun Sanni

Slum2School tries to combat the electricity problems by providing power banks and solar charging kiosks, but the challenge is always there.

Long school breaks in developing and underdeveloped countries can cut children out of education as they are pushed to support poor families with menial work, said Otto Orondaam, the charity’s founder of Slum2School.

“This is just another way to keep them learning,” he pointed out.


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