Parent’s fears and courage in the face of COVID-19
The recent, much-reported outbreak of violence in schools could be a withdrawal symptom in students reacting to the sudden loss of their COVID 19-given “freedoms” according to
Racheal Ndungu, a parent and a teacher.
She, speculates that children had enough time to establish new, less restricted lifestyles which they may be fighting to maintain. “They say a habit is established in twenty-one days. The children had close to a year living without school regulations and controls, and probably even parental supervision. Freedom is nice. They aren’t going let it go easily,” says the mother of two.
As a teacher she is seeing children having more money to spend than she remembers them ever having in the entirety of her pre-COVID teaching career. “Many of these children were watching TV, surfing the net, probably smoking, drinking and watching porn,” Racheal says.
“The girls were probably engaging in sex, judging by the number of pregnancies reported in the media. Some children were earning money as hawkers and casual labourers. I think by February they’ll be sinking in depression with the realization that their recent ‘luxury’ life has ended.”
Racheal narrates certain goings-on in her neighbourhood in Donholm. Some of the boys from relatively well-off families walk around with “phones more sophisticated and higher end than my humble Samsung A20.” They also blast music from small but powerful hand-held bluetooth speakers. With such uncontrolled freedom, it is no wonder the children are struggling back in school, she says.
Racheal say one of the outcomes of the pandemic is the realisation by parents that teachers do more than just teach. “Teachers actually parent the students,” she says.
Because of this, she appreciates the opening of schools, her fears notwithstanding. “There are children from such miserable homes that school is like a hiding place. They find love, acceptance and friends there. For them closing of schools leads to some very dark doors.”
COVID-19’s impact on parents has not been uniform throughout. For Carol Waweru, the situation meant a change of schools for her two boys. She has had to move them to a public school. “COVID-19 has impacted my capacity to give them the best possible education I’d wish for”. Surprise, however, was when she found that public schools are not as bad as she had feared. “I actually found a very good public school in Kiambu.”
Her worry in the first weeks of schools reopening was informed by the fact that her children have been home for nine months. She didn’t know what to expect. However, as day follows day she is growing in confidence that the children may be safe after all.
“I try to be keen and make sure my children are protected. I’ve taken precautions. The rest I leave to God,” she says. She suggests that school time should be limited and schedule adjusted so some children could attend in the morning and the rest in the afternoon.
Carol’s thoughts somehow resonate with Dennis Muthuo, a father of two boys and a girl. Mr Muthuo says he is keeping worry at bay by praying. His faith as a Christians helps him to overrule his fears. “I realize that I can only hope and pray,” he says.
View our Centre for Behaviour Change and Communication Services.