Because schools in Ethiopia closed due to COVID-19 since the 16th of March 2020, Her Choice partner ESD together with the Ministry of Education and other key partners, developed a COVID-19 response strategy and plan. In this response strategy, distance learning is being developed to be an alternative learning method to ensure that children’s learning can continue.
Regional education bureaus have been broadcasting educational radio and TV programmes for children to access. However, there have been multiple challenges to ensure effective distance learning for children especially for girls in ESD’s intervention area. This is mainly because many disadvantaged households do not have access to tv and radio and the efforts to respond to the crisis have sometimes been scattered and uncoordinated. School closures have significant implications for the learning and wellbeing of girls. During this pandemic and school closure following the pandemic, the risk of gender-based violence, early marriage and pregnancy increased.
ESD developed and delivered awareness on COVID-19 and protection messages to more than 15, 000 households and community groups to help girls and their families to stay safe at home. In this process, ESD is collaborating with the district education office and COVID-19 prevention taskforce.
In the meantime, different messages aired through local radio stations are reaching more than 60,000 people across the Her Choice project area. Working with partners, ESD conducted a rapid assessment on the impact of COVID-19 that captures the views of girls and parents.
Girls in the intervention area are fully protected from contracting COVID-19 as long as ESD is providing enough personal protective equipment, sanitary materials and detergent. Together with staff of the intervention schools, ESD is monitoring the safety of the girls and ensure that all girls have access to the distributed materials and detergents.
The project has been closely working in cooperating ways with local communities to create an enabling environment for those to address SRH issues. To this endeavour school staff, communities, families and local leaders work productively together.