Benin’s decision to reopen schools after six weeks of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made the small West African country the only one on the African continent to do so. Except for nursery schools and universities, all educational establishments have reopened, and the government has said they would be providing hand sanitizers, masks, and viral screenings for learners.
The demonstration led to the death of one protestor.
In March, students at the University of Abomey-Calavi demanded the closure of the university during the pandemic. Police arrested three students trying to empty lecture theaters, and there was a confrontation following a demonstration to demand their release that led to the death of one protestor.
Parents remain cautious about the reopening, and many want to verify that proactive measures have been taken. Despite government promises of providing personal protective equipment like masks for free, several students reported having to procure their own for the first day of resumed classes, and some didn’t have a mask.
European Learners are Also Returning to School
Benin joins countries like Denmark, Germany, Israel, and the Netherlands in resuming schooling for some of its learners. There is limited research, but a recent survey of the literature couldn’t find an example of a child under ten passing the SARS-CoV-2 virus on to others, and studies show children are less likely than adults to get infected. Skeptics have argued that the data available are not statistically significant, and urge governments to be cautious about allowing young children to gather in crowds until more research has been conducted.
Despite these warnings, a handful of other African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Guinea, are expected to open up schools over the next few weeks.