In the final testimonial of our In First Person series, we return to Cúcuta, Colombia. María Alejandra lives as a single mother with her five children in the Navarro Wolf neighborhood. She is expecting another child, and with the risks of her high-risk pregnancy now compounded by the ongoing pandemic, has been unable to work for the past several months. Three of her children were attending school prior to the pandemic; without internet access, two of them have since stopped keeping up with classes. Only her daughter that attends Santa Rosa de Lima continues to study. María says that the teachers there have made a concerted efforts to ensure her daughter can access her lessons and homework.
María’s children, alongside many of our previous In First Person videos, are examples of a troubling global trend during this pandemic. As reported by the World Bank, the world was already struggling with a learning crisis prior to the arrival of COVID-19, with 53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. Now, as the pandemic places ever-increasing burdens on poor families, the World Bank has released the harrowing estimation that “without rapid, decisive, and coordinated action …. 7 million students from primary and secondary education could drop out of school due to the income shock of the pandemic alone.”