Equity re-examined: Children with disabilities and their education during COVID-19 in Malawi

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Equity re-examined: Children with disabilities and their education during COVID-19 in Malawi*

PIs: Dr Eric Umar (College of Medicine, University of Malawi) and Professor Nidhi Singal (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge) 

The COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact across the world. As of April 2020, UNESCO reported that 1.6 billion learners (nearly 9 out of 10 children) are out of school worldwide due to the school closured. In Africa, almost all learners, both in schools and universities, have been affected by the pandemic. In Malawi, it is estimated that almost six million school-going children have been home since 23 March due to the Government of Malawi’s Coronavirus disease prevention measures with the aim to prevent the spread of the virus (UNICEF, 2020). While various efforts are being made to support children’s learning through the development of radio, television and online materials, there is little evidence of catering to the specific needs of children with disabilities. This is an important exclusion and needs to be addressed.

The Population and Housing Census in Malawi reported about 10.4% of the population aged 5 years and older have disabilities (National Statistics Office, 2019), making it a significant group. There is a danger that if education of children with disabilities remains neglected during this pandemic, the many gains made in increasing educational enrolment at primary level prior to COVID-19 will be lost.

This research has significance in managing the current crisis and in the period of education recovery.

*This project is supported by a Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund COVID-19 Emergency Award

For more project updates and blogs please see our Cambridge-Africa Updates page.