As the world is fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 130 countries have now closed schools nationwide, impacting nearly 80% of students globally. This is unprecedented; the world has never seen this many children out of school at the same time.
In a situation like this it is normal to feel sad, worried, confused, scared or angry. Learn how students in the affected countries keep learning and stay positive in times of uncertainty.
Have you also been affected by school closures? Are you staying home due to quarantines? Share your story with Voices of Youth on social media, using the hashtag #voicesofyouth or through our website.
For the latest information about COVID-19, visit unicef.org/coronavirus.
Xiaoyu, 16, China
Xiaoyu starts the day at 8 AM in Beijing. She logs in to an online platform launched by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. She’s one of the hundreds of millions who is learning from home using her digital device and an internet connection.
“Compared with normal schooling, online learning is less effective to me. At school, I can approach teachers at any time if I have questions, and I can also discuss with my classmates. I miss my friends, staying at home for such a long time is so boring.
When I first learned the news about the postponing of spring semester, I was happy about the extended holiday. But now I just want to go back to school.”
GIORGI, 13, GEORGIA
"The first week was fun, not many things were closed, and Tbilisi wasn’t sad and empty. But after a couple of days the virus spread to more people and everything got closed, so just sitting at home was getting boring. Usually I can be entertained really simply - just give me a phone or a laptop and yeah that's pretty much it, I’ll sit by myself and play games. But my mom and grandma don’t really like that, they want me to be healthy so sitting all day playing video games isn’t an option.
So I found other ways to entertain myself. First, reading: I’ve always loved reading and I do read now as well, but I’m running out of books and the bookstores are closed. Second, I really enjoy cooking, it’s just so satisfying when you have everything organized and ready to go and then you make just the perfect dish. But when I cook things don't usually go that way - and there’s total chaos in the kitchen."
Read more stories by children in Georgia, here.
CRISTINE, 15, PANAMA
"My sister got happy when we heard our school was closing. I didn't. How am I supposed to learn now? I'm studying a difficult grade, if materials are sent unit by unit, teachers will demand more and it will be harder for me to learn on my own.
I'm advancing with some homework and I'm already reading the next units. I play with my nephews, I read and play word search.
To other students around the world whose schools have been closed due to coronavirus, I would ask them not to think these are holidays. There's a reason why we're out of school. It's time for us to prepare and not to get sick."
ILINCA, 15, ROMANIA
"Today I realized how much I got lost in the things I had to prepare for school, forgetting what made me smile and gave me energy when I was little. I started again making origami, flowers, more specifically, because it’s the season of rebirth and, we need to bring some colors 😁 into this chaos. Origami stimulates creativity and the sense of beauty, always bringing smiles to the faces of those who try it, when they see the final result!
Free your emotions, put your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a document on your computer! And, hey, maybe this will be the start of a desire to write more often! People need to hear you, by any means possible!"
Ilinca is one of the young bloggers taking part in UNICEF Romania's #StayAtHome journal. Read more here.
DANIELA, 13, EL SALVADOR
"When I first heard about school closures due to coronavirus I felt stressed, because I wouldn't be able to see my friends, and because it's harder to learn when you don't have your teacher in front of you.
I keep learning with online homework, through our school online platform. I read books, make handcrafts and play musical instruments to keep my mood up.
What I would tell other students going through the same situation around the world is to try and do the things you enjoy, this is an opportunity to try new things and not only your homework."
Tahmina, 24, Afghanistan (studying in italy)
“I am a masters degree student in Padua University. This was the first province in Italy which had to face coronavirus. We are not allowed to go outside and we have online classes. All materials are available on the online platform. Our professors gave us homework, which keep us busy most of the time.
I stay in my room all day and there are only a few girls left in our hostel. We eat in our rooms, so we have plenty of time to study. In this situation the only things that help me are my smartphone and my laptop.
I talk and communicate with my family and friends more than ever, I watch movies and of course I eat more compared to the past! Moreover, as I am alone in this country, without family, I keep writing my daily life in my diary."
This young reporter made this video, titled “What do I do at home during the coronavirus outbreak?”, when he saw that, according to Ipsos research data, young people are the group that is least concerned about coronavirus and they are therefore probably the most inclined to disregard social isolation recommendations.
“My video is intended for young people and illustrates how to spend quality time at home. Of course, the message to all young people is #StayHome and let’s choose what we watch, read and listen to,” Đorđe explains.
Mustafa, 19, IRAQ
“This will be an exceptional year for every student, and the first feelings that come to mind are frustration and tension, but I have to overcome them.
I have arranged a schedule that suits me so that I can study at home, with the help of YouTube. Frankly, the teachers are competent and give us materials that are right, and the information is communicated in a smooth and simple way. Everything is available online, and everyone remains determined.
I became responsible for my own learning, because there’s no one really to advise me. Everything is available online and we must be responsible for our learning to create something out of nothing.”
LALUKA, 16, GEORGIA
"The lessons start at 11am, the earliest. The time is very convenient because I can get enough sleep and prepare for the lessons properly. The lessons are taking place as usual and it is very convenient.
I am at home and have everything at hand; I can listen to lessons in my room all day long. I just miss school because of friends. It is sometimes boring to sit at home, but we have to cope with this for the sake of safety."
Read more stories by children in Georgia, here.
MURTATHA, 15, IRAQ
“I completed mid-year exams with good marks, and wish God save us from this disease. When the schools closed I felt sad as studying via internet will be difficult for me. But as long as the coronavirus is there I have to stay and study hard at home.”
SHAMAYEL, 15 BANGLADESH
"We are home quarantined for almost a month, we don't have anywhere to go. I miss all my friends and relatives. I miss all my teachers and school. It's so boring that I can't even explain.
We all are doing online classes while staying at home. I hope that this COVID-19 vanishes and we all go back to our normal lives. Please pray for us."
5 TIPS FOR STUDENTS
🎒 5 things you can do as a student to help prevent and control coronavirus in schools:
1️⃣ Talk to someone you trust, like your parent or teacher, educate yourself and get information from reliable sources 👍
2️⃣ Protect yourself and others wash your hands frequently, remember to not touch your face and do not share cups, eating utensils, food or drinks with others.
3️⃣ Be a leader in keeping yourself, your school, family and community healthy 🙋♀️ sharing good practices such as sneezing or coughing into your elbow.
4️⃣ Don’t stigmatize your peers or tease anyone about being sick 🙅♂️ remember that the virus doesn’t follow geographical boundaries, ethnicities, age or ability or gender.
5️⃣ Tell your parents, another family member, or a caregiver if you feel sick, and ask to stay home 🏡