KK eeping “Every Child at School” is a global effort of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or ADRA. In the Republic of Slovenia, a nation stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Alps, that means getting computers to those unable to afford the devices so children can remain connected to classes—and schoolwork.
Natasha is the mother of two young children—one in fifth grade and the other in eighth grade. The lockdown triggered by the coronavirus of 2020 and related COVID-19 infections kept children and parents at home, and dependent upon technology to handle schoolwork. The smartphone Natasha relied upon to help her kids wasn’t sufficient, however.
“We have tried to keep our girls engaged in the school process and ensure them to keep up with school materials,” Natasha recalled. “We were using an old smartphone and quickly realized that we could not download files or prepare homework on the phone. The girls had trouble following school materials and they started to fall behind.”
ADRA Europe stepped in, offering a computer for the family to use. As Natasha put it, “Having a computer will not only ensure them to participate in e-learning but also serve them for further education. We are very grateful.”
Natasha’s girls are two of more than 42,000 people in Europe who received support during the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Although some schools are reopening, UNESCO reports nationwide school closures are still affecting more than 1 billion students worldwide (or 60 percent of the student population).
ADRA Europe reports the inequality gap between rich and poor, present at the best of times, is exacerbated by school closures worldwide. Poorer students face increased obstacles to achieving good grades as they contend with a lack of space to work, problems reaching online resources, as well as psychological challenges.
While educators scramble to create online learning courses in a bid to teach remotely, the coronavirus crisis is amplifying educational inequality by putting low-income students at a greater disadvantage than their wealthier peers. As Natasha found out, an old smartphone isn’t sufficient for distance education.
Educators wonder if the period out of school will lead to a variation of the phenomenon known as summer learning loss, where students—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—lose months of learning, particularly in mathematics.
These students may not be able to afford summer school or activities enjoyed by higher-income students, therefore exacerbating the achievement gap between both groups. As part of the “Every Child At School” campaign, inschool.adra.org, ADRA Europe is reaching out to families with assistance, and advocating for additional aid to keep children learning.