KENYA: Catholic Professionals Suggest New Approach to Education during Covid-19

NAIROBI, JUNE 9, 2020 (CISA)– ICMICA-PaxRomana, the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs has called for functional education systems that will be responsive to the needs of Sub Saharan Africa communities in the face of Covid-19.

“The situation of COVID 19 has not created a new situation; it has dramatized what has been there all the time, the inequalities in education. We want to face this assumption that education plays the same role in Europe, Asia and in Africa. Education plays a different role in Africa and so we need to look at a different approach to education,” Fr Joseph Arimoso, Education Co-odinator for the Jesuit conference of Africa and Madagascar said during a webinar on the Provision of Quality and Inclusive Education in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Phase of Covid-19.

In her remarks, Mrs. Josephine Lungu – Education Secretary, Archdiocese of Lusaka, Zambia called on faith based institutions especially Catholic schools to lead by example by going back to being the model of what it means to provide an education which is mainly the full formation of the child.

The experts agreed on the importance of the household in child development and the role it plays being the first school for children.

“80 percent of a person’s intellectual capacity is created in the first 1,000 days of life. What takes place in the household in terms of nutrition or social interactions either builds that cognitive ability or stunts it,” Professor Neil Boothby who doubles as Director of Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child at the University of Notre Dame, USA said.

The professionals noted that while parents have left the role of instilling values and building character in their children to the schools, there is very little contribution that the school can do.

“The failure of education has been a failure of parents in many parts of Africa. We have ignored our values, there were those story sessions we held for children now we have adapted the western model that actually doesn’t work,” said Dr. John Mugo – Executive Director of ZiziAfrique Foundation, Kenya.

They called on the Church to build positive parenting messages so as to help parents make households a safe environment for children.

Gracing the meeting was Fr Leonard Namuvumba, the National Education Secretary of the Zambia Council for Catholic Bishops who emphasized that the Church considers education as an integral part in the transformation of the whole person.

The discussion brought together a panel of experts, parents, primarily catholic lay professionals, as well as education stakeholders across Africa with about 60 participants connecting.