One of the greatest disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to education. Globally, 191 countries have closed their schools affecting over 1.5 billion students, which is 90 percent of enrolled learners. In Northeast India, teachers have returned to their villages. In Liberia, they’ve gone to the airwaves to broadcast classes over the radio. In all 11 of our operating countries, schools have closed. There are unpaid tuition fees and school proprietors are struggling to meet payroll and rent payments.
But this disruption has been another invitation for us at Edify.
Our teams and directors have found creative solutions to walk alongside school proprietors and leaders through technology. Using a mobile messaging app called WhatsApp, Zoom video conferencing, and making countless phone calls, we’ve stayed committed to walking with our partner schools in a time they’ve needed help the most. Prayers, encouragements, and trainings are given almost daily to hundreds of proprietors and teachers straight to their homes.
Here are short updates from each of our operating countries on new strategies and plans they’ve implemented to continue on our mission of improving and expanding Christ-centered education globally. We are proud of the ways our team is shining hope and unity at this time.
To stay in touch with our school partners, especially school proprietors and their administrative staff, the team has set up a WhatsApp group. The main purpose of the group includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Host prayer events with our partners
- Disseminate both Edify and health-related information with the proprietors
- Easily reach out to our partner schools when needed
Recently, Claudia, one of our Christian Transformation and Training Officers, initiated a prayer chain with the proprietors in the Bobo region. The information was easily shared on the platform, and many proprietors joined in. Dramane, the Country Director, asked school proprietors to share the strategies they have in place to continue educating their students despite the temporary closure. The platform has also been instrumental in disseminating information related to potential scams. Since the lockdown, the proprietors have been active on the platform, providing comfort from Scripture to strengthen one another.
“During this time of national emergency, the Edify DR Team has been making phone calls, video calls via Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp. We have been sending messages of encouragement and, above all, praying with school directors and owners to be strengthened during this global crisis in which we live. The directors’ responses have been that they are grateful for Edify being the first to call and support them.”
– Denis Sabino Rosario, Dominican Republic Country Director
“I have been in contact with the leaders of the fellowships (associations). Most of the schools we work with operate in a rented facility and have a large number of staff. They are finding it difficult to pay salaries and property rent. We are working with the fellowship leaders on how we will help.”
– Yonatan Tekie, Ethiopia Country Director
In April, our team held a Zoom meeting with 15 school leaders to discuss human resource implications for the pandemic like the effect on teachers, operations of their schools, and how to make emergency plans. We also gave a financial business training on practices to keep their schools afloat currently and after schools are opened and fees start coming in. The Zoom meeting was so successful that the school leaders agreed to continue trainings two times a month to discuss challenges and the way forward. The audio recording of the meeting was later shared with over 150 school leaders via WhatsApp.
“Edify, I’m really impressed. The way you are always ready to help us in face of any difficulty makes us a better organization.” – an Edify partner school proprietor
“We held a meeting with school proprietors using Zoom. I shared with them on how to lead during a time of crisis. A few proprietors shared at the end, ‘Karla, thanks for the meeting today. You can’t imagine how much you encouraged me.'”
– Karla de Pineda, Guatemala Country Director
COVID-19 has brought with it many uncertainties and challenges, but in the midst of it, we are not perplexed or discouraged as we see it a great opportunity to be relentless and stronger for those we serve. Edify Liberia continues to serve its partner schools in various ways.
The Christian Transformation Team has connected with school proprietors via text messages, calls, and sharing encouraging words through WhatsApp and five of them have made take-home lessons for their students. The team has used this example to encourage other partner schools to do the same for their students while at home.
“I have spoken to many school owners about how they are doing, and they all share different stories about very difficult situations. Though they are proprietors, they are also struggling to meet their own needs. Most likely, they are going to request that their teachers wait for school fees to be paid, which is unlikely due to lockdown. If fees are not paid, they will have to borrow money to pay their teachers.
Below is from Ms. Tracy, the proprietor of Apple Buds Academy, which I think summarizes a majority of the school owners’ and teachers’ struggle as a result of the pandemic:
‘Our teachers went back to their villages due to 21 days of lockdown. School fees are not paid, but I still have to arrange teachers’ salaries. For teachers who are in nearby villages, I met and paid 50 percent of their salary, about $25-50. There are teachers who struggle more than others, so to them, in addition to 50 percent of their salary, we gave them about 20-30lbs. of rice to support their families.'”
– Sem Haokip, NE India Lead Christian Transformation and Training Officer
“The Peruvian government will help the school owners with a subsidy of 35 percent of the teachers’ salaries during the COVID-19 crisis. However, the aid will only apply to schools registered with the Ministry of Education and have their teachers registered with the Ministry of Labor.
In 2014, Edify Peru served less than 50 schools, and only 30 percent of them complied with the government regulations—which means 70 percent would not have received financial relief aid. Throughout the years, Edify Peru has helped all school owners legally register their school and comply with all requirements (tax payment, teachers’ payroll, building safety certification, academic quality, etc.). Today, we serve 739 schools, all of them financially sustainable and in compliance with Peruvian laws. One hundred percent of Edify partner schools can receive this subsidy!”
– Bettina Gomez Garcia, Vice President of Latin American Programs
“Mr. Kimenyi William is the headteacher of Melanie’s Christian School located in Kabuga, Gasabo District. During one of our check-in calls with him, he shared what was outstanding and transformational was that his faith and trust in God increased. He said this season had taught him that God is for us, and we don’t have to fear, and he felt that God had given us this time to get closer to Him.
When asked what he’s doing during this time, he said, ‘I am using this time to read more scriptures and pray to God. God has a plan for his people, and it’s our duty to pray more to know His will. ‘What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31).”
– Callist Kayigamba, Rwanda Country Director
“Sierra Leone has six networks of proprietors’ fellowships, and all of them have established a WhatsApp group as a means of reaching one another. With these groups, they share vital information such as praying for one another or sharing Bible verses to encourage each other. We also reach out to them through WhatsApp with words of encouragement and prayers, and it has been working very well. Our communication line with the proprietors is very active.
One of the proprietors during my call with him had this to say, ‘We are very grateful to God for using Edify to unify us and ready to stand with us in this difficult time.'”
– Michael Kamara, Sierra Leone Christian Training and Transformation Officer
“Destiny High School, led by Pastor Sajjabbi, is being affected by the virus. He shared how he admired Edify’s support in such a time. Pastor Sajjabbi also mentioned that he understands that Edify’s donor base could be affected, and thus the need to keep each other in prayer. He encouraged us to seek the Lord and to be sure that this will pass someday. We prayed together and even discussed creative ways to support schools after re-opening, including encouraging schools to form funds to support their teachers or an emergency fund.
Rogers Mukalele, who works with us as a volunteer in education technology, created a WhatsApp group that has shared key online resources that students can benefit from while home for a month. It’s lovely to sit and watch how much information flows and how much learning happens in these groups. I have found such resources vital for our partner schools.”
– Godfrey Lugoloobi, Uganda Country Director
In uncertain times like these, our hearts are full of encouragement as our global team is creating new strategies and walking closely with our school proprietors and teachers—and we hope these updates have encouraged you too! We invite you to join us as we continue to pray for our world, our partner schools, and their students.
- Countries like Ethiopia and India are facing major food shortages, pray that essential items can be delivered to the regions and homes that need it the most.
- Pray for school proprietors as they navigate how to manage payrolls and rent.
- 90 percent of the world’s students are out of school, join us in praying for creative solutions for them to continue learning even at home.