Updated: Apr 8, 2020
They don't know, when they will go back, when they will see their friends again, if they will get to say goodbye to their teachers, or enjoy the now common right of passage such as graduations, leavers' assembly, prom or get to take a picture for their year book. It’s so sad! For some it's confusing, for some heart-breaking!
Imagine if this was happening in the UK, imagine if this was happening to our children, oh wait…
Shutting schools was absolutely the right thing to do, but today many parents, children, teachers and support staff experienced what its like to have something that is important to us taken away, something fundamental to the way we live, to our children’s future. No one caused it and there were very few alternatives, we do know however, that normality will return. For the vast majority of us, this situation will pass, it’s time limited. The fear, the upheaval, the anxiety, the inconvenience will subside, and we will no doubt look back saying we came out of it stronger.
Today what we experienced, what our children felt, the confusion and uncertainty that we all face, has been felt before, by far too many people. UNICEF figures at the end of 2019 suggest that 27 million children worldwide are out of school, denied the right to an education due to conflict, poverty or displacement. Even in refugee camps only 50% of children have access to education and on average people can live in refugee camps for 12 years – only two years fewer than our children will spend at school.
I set up KnownValuedLoved because I believe in the power of education. I’ve spent 17 years of my life telling people that without access to high quality teaching and support the life chances for children and young people are limited. If today has taught us one thing, it's that we need to value what we have, where we live, and the opportunities that are available to us all.
I am not trying to make light of the difficulty some of us are facing in this country right now – I get it. I picked my children up today and I could have cried for them. They don’t get it! but I can protect them from it. I can hug them, I can tell them things will get better, I can open the amazing pack of resources that the teachers have spent every hour available to them preparing over the past few days, or I can download the free stuff online or ring teacher friends who can inspire me with crafts and we can do yoga (their new favourite thing)! But my heart is breaking for the 27 million – I knew they were there, I knew they were real, I’ve seen them on the news, hear stories about them and I’ve given my life over the past 12 months to try to help to change things – but today I got a glimpse, I felt it so much more – I can’t stop feeling it. For too many children the answer isn’t as simple, the end isn’t in sight.
I am not sure what message I want to get across through this first blog. I certainly don’t want to make people feel guilty for being sad today, I also don’t want to preach the message that others have it worse. I think I just want people to understand the heart behind what we are trying to do, and to encourage people to try to see the needs of others, to feel compassion or even be driven to try to help. When this passes, and our children return to school, I hope we remember how we felt today, I hope we appreciate that teachers will be working twice as hard to get our children back up to the standard they would have been at had this never happened – but I also hope that we feel something, and we spare a thought for the parents who can’t walk their children down the school path but would give anything to do so, the children whose education is still on hold, and the teachers all over the world that are desperate to teach but have no school to teach in.