With our urgent call we would like to support Waldorf Schools affected by the economic consequences of the lockdowns in their respective countries and ask for help in implementing emergency educational programs.
Following the outbreak of the new Corona virus and the devastating consequences of the disease Covid-19, extensive measures were initially taken in China to slow down its further spread: curfews were imposed, towns and provinces were sealed off from the outside world, social and community life was extremely restricted - and thus schools and kindergartens were also closed. When the virus finally made its way to other countries and continents, the measures were repeated in many places around the world. Schools in Germany had to be shut down from mid-March onwards, along with countless other schools, kindergartens and universities on all continents. According to UNESCO more than 1.5 billion young people had no access to educational institutions in March. A radical change for everyone involved: many parents now not only have to look after their children - often while they are working themselves - but also have to help them study. For many, this is certainly a great challenge, but it is also an opportunity to establish a new connection with their own children and to gain additional insight into the work of teachers. Home office, a mostly high level of education, and good technical conditions make this possible: In many places, lessons can be continued via video conferences and the schools' intranets.
But in some parts of the world there is no reliable access to the Internet and owning a computer or even a smartphone is a luxury. For example, Mercy from Rudolf Steiner School Mbagathi in Kenya tells us, "80 percent of our students come from families in need. For them, smartphones and computers are not basic commodities, and therefore they do not own them." So the school cannot distribute homework via the Internet - the staff of teachers is currently trying to find other solutions.
Even before a lockdown was decided in Zanzibar, the Zanzibar Steiner School chose to close the school to protect the children and their families. The teachers have put together a study package that they themselves will deliver to the children - so that as few people as possible have to get into the still turbulent traffic. For many children, the package contains not only learning materials, but also soap and eggs, because most of the children come from poor families and do not get enough to eat at home and have nothing to wash their hands with. In a fairly small school as this, a "delivery service" for learning materials is still possible, but in larger schools, where many children live far away from school, it would be a logistical issue.
There is a lack of funds to solve this problem and funds are already very scarce at these schools. The Zenzeleni School for Creative Education in Cape Town reports: "Most of our children come from families in the townships with a monthly income of R 5,000 (about 250 Euro) or less. Without a secure income many will not be able to pay even small contributions. Our deficit in raising funds will therefore be much larger than planned. We expect a shortfall of 250,000 R (about 12,500 Euro) in our fees for the 2020 budget, especially since the economic impact of the shutdown is expected to continue for months after the shutdown is lifted".
The current pandemic has far-reaching consequences. Many people are worried. Especially children and young people can develop massive anxieties in this situation. But fear is a bad advisor. Stress and anxiety reduce the defensive capabilities of our immune system and make us more susceptible to illness. In the current situation human solidarity is essential for the psychosocial stabilization; but it is faced with particular challenges in this crisis. Since both the media coverage and the quarantine measures can be traumatizing, experts already expect that a far greater number of children and adolescents will be traumatized than after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York, with potentially far-reaching biographical and social consequences. According to media reports, domestic violence in China increased threefold during the curfew period. The Child Protection Association in Germany has already pointed out this threatening situation in a press release.
We are planning the following activities in this situation:
Establishment of a German-language helpline, located in the Department for Emergency Pedagogy at the Parzival Center Karlsruhe in cooperation with the Friends of Waldorf Education/Emergency Pedagogy and the Department for Emergency Pedagogy in Munich. This hotline is available daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at +40 721 / 6807866-22 for parents as well as for children and adolescents who feel overwhelmed, frightened, destabilized or threatened in their home environment. They will be offered psychosocial first aid in an emergency-pedagogical consultation.
Production of a series of video clips with tips, advice and concrete examples from emergency-pedagogical practice for the psychosocial stabilization of children and adolescents in crises. This clips aim at providing advice that can be directly implemented at home.
Email hotline for advice
Close exchange with our emergency pedagogy network partners in 34 countries and support of the emergency pedagogy country teams who care for and support families living in slums.
Support for country teams in setting up local and digital aid structures.
The virus will spread with a time delay in the different regions of the earth. After the beginning in Asia, Europe is now affected, as well as the USA with a peak in early summer. In autumn, the peak will probably be reached in South America. It is also expected that this crisis will continue for one to two years. The consequences for the health of the population, the social order and the global economy cannot yet be assessed. To be able to implement all these activities as quickly and effectively as possible, human resources are indispensable.
We need support in setting up the infrastructure needed to provide aid and guidance and for coordination of efforts, as well as in the preparation of diverse school supplies.