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HomeAfrican schools in the age of COVID-19

African schools in the age of COVID-19

Les écoles africaines à l'ère du COVID-19

African schools in the age of COVID-19

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Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2020


The arrival of COVID-19 in Africa on 14 February 2020 has not left schools untouched and inactive. The effects experienced, the counter-offensives carried out, and the innovations generated now place African schools under new faces that research must study, understand, theorize, and put into perspective. That is what this call for papers is all about, inviting potential authors to examine the following aspects: experiences of distance education, strengths, and weaknesses of African schools in the time of crisis, impacts of COVID-19 on learning, the teaching profession, conceptual abstraction, and school of tomorrow in Africa.



The arrival of COVID-19 in Africa through Egypt on 14 February 2020 and its gradual expansion into sub-Saharan Africa has not left schools untouched and inactive. It has, however, had devastating on schooling as almost all Sub-Saharan African country has been under lockdown in the last few months. In some of these countries, there have been partial online/e-learning in varying forms, which has become the new normal. Nevertheless, in many of these countries, it is doubtful if the rural and urban poor populations are being carried along. Whereas, if the SDG 4 mantra of no one should be left behind, something urgent needs to be done, so that this development of the new normal, which is most likely to continue in the post-COVID 19 eras, can effectively be implemented. There is a need to ensure that much fund is invested in the power and technology sectors given attention to the rural and urban poor populations.

The devastating effects of the pandemic have left schools across the continent in a state of comatose. From Senegal to Kenya through Burkina Faso to Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda, from Egypt to South Africa through Chad and Cameroon, the partial or total confinement of populations has led to the closure of educational institutions at the primary, secondary and university levels. As UNESCO[1] indicates, Africa was the only continent where all countries have opted for a national schools' lockdown, thus putting millions of pupils and students in a situation of “academic deprivation.” For the first time in the history of independent Africa, pupils and teachers were on forced holidays, with an uncertain outcome, at the beginning or in the middle of the academic year. This has led to a dysfunctional school rhythm and calendar. Conferences, seminars, examinations, sports, and cultural events, which are at the heart of the school and academic life, had been suspended or canceled across the continent. The campuses usually crowded in April looked like human deserts that are only imaginable.

In terms of action, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, to varying degrees, the adaptive and innovative capacities of African schools in terms of responses, including distance education and medical support. At the university level, digital platforms and technological tools have been upgraded or launched to ensure pedagogical continuity in this time of confinement. At the level of primary and secondary schools, television and radio education have taken over from face-to-face schooling, under impressive names like “school on TV” (Cameroon), “learning at home,” “school in Senegal” and “teachers' room” (Senegal), “school on-screen” (Benin), “school at home” (Côte d'Ivoire), “school at home... live teacher” (Togo). It has taken similar names in Anglophone Africa: “school on the air.” And various forms of webinars from Google Classroom to StreamYard, Edmodo, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other forms of social media have taken over the tertiary education terrain. While ensuring that there is pedagogical continuity, African universities were also involved in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the case of EpiTech in Benin, where a student has developed an online COVID-19 self-test, or the Ecole Supérieure Multinational des Télécommunications of Sénégal, which has created a patient diagnosis application called Di@gnosTIC. In Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, and Togo, in Nigeria, Ghana Angola, Egypt, Côte d'Ivoire, Republic Democratic of Congo, South Africa, and Tunisia, universities are involved in the production of hand sanitizer, manual ventilators in the case of Nigeria. Masks, ventilation systems, and protective equipment are equally being invented. Middle-level institutions such as the polytechnics have also made them their contributions. In Mali and Kenya, particularly, some institutions have explicitly proposed teleworking solutions and technologies for modeling the spread of COVID-19 in Africa.

Apart from this very brief situation review, we know very little in terms of analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on education in Africa. The relevance of political, technological, and pedagogical responses and strategies initiated by African schools to this pandemic is still largely unknown. To produce new knowledge on these new challenges for educational institutions in Africa, we invite potential contributors to our collective project entitled: African Schools in the age of COVID-19, to reflect on the following themes.

Theme 1: The experience and the state of the art of distance and remote learning schools

Here, the expected contributions could describe the experiences of learners and teachers in Africa in terms of how they have adopted, launched, or upgraded distance education mode. Experiences to be studied may also concern the representation and appropriation of distance education, the teaching and learning practices, the adoption of new training materials as well as the pedagogical interactions. Contributors can evaluate and question the state of the art of distance education, radio education, and digital education in times of crisis and confinement.

Theme 2: The response of African schools to COVID-19: relevance and limits

This theme aims to highlight the relevance and limits of the African schools' responses to COVID-19 and its effects. These responses include the urgent implementation of new training modes as well as innovative initiatives dedicated to curbing the pandemic. Their pedagogical, sociological, health and psychological effectiveness could be subjects to analyze. Contributors may also assess the limits of these responses in terms of efficiency and sociological and geographical scope.

Theme 3: Strengths and weaknesses of African education systems in the management of COVID-19

As regards this theme, papers are invited to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of African education systems in the management of the crisis, as exceptional as it was unexpected, due to COVID-19. For, whatever the measures taken, the pandemic has exposed the capacities of African schools and the need to find educational alternatives to a situation where teachers and learners are in confinement to their homes in the middle of the academic year. Did the implemented pedagogical solutions reflect a proactive preparation, anticipation, haste, or rather a scramble by the current educational policies?

Axis 4: The effects of confinement due to COVID-19 on educational equality

Unesco reports that millions of pupils and students are currently out of school. This UN agency also says that in Africa, more than 65% of students in primary and secondary schools are excluded from the new modes of education dominated by distance education. At the tertiary level, more than 40% of students are disabled in their distance learning due to the inadequate technological equipment at their disposal. It would then be interesting to evaluate the effects of confinement due to COVID-19 on the effectiveness of the right to education and the accessibility to quality education. It would also be relevant to study the new forms of educational inequality that intertwines with the socio-economic inequalities and the digital divides.

Theme 5: The consequences of the school lockdown

Under this theme, the expected contributions may highlight the challenges of the school lockdown experienced by students, teachers, parents, institutions, managers, and policymakers. These issues and consequences may concern training, teaching, learning, school, family, access to content, economy, society, sociability, interactions, and relationships of teachers and learners to knowledge. The impact of lockdown on girl-child education within the cultural context. They could be considered from sociological, psychological, pedagogical, and economic perspectives.

Theme 6: The new school configurations

The advent of the schools’ lockdown gave rise to new forms of campuses, not closed, but open, and based not on proximity but distance. It would thus be essential to describe and understand this new form of school and classroom in terms of structural configuration, roles, interactions, relationships to knowledge, resources, means, and tools. Hence the following questions: What is schooling, teaching, studying, and relationship to knowledge in times of confinement? In this context, what does access to resources and teaching aids imply? How can the didactic triangle be questioned in this context? Etc.

Theme 7: Creativity and ingenuity

In distance learning practices in the COVID-19 era, teachers have been seen on TV showing pedagogical ingenuity. The use of digital media for education in this time of crisis show how teachers juggle tools for teaching. They also tell of their ability and imagination in terms of finding solutions or inventing devices to deal with COVID-19. On social networks, some videos showcase students' creativity in terms of learning and role-playing. It would then be crucial to document and conceptualize this creativeness and ingenuity and to analyze their factors and implications.

Theme 8: Distance learning interactions

Educational interactions are at the heart of educational action. In the classroom, it is impossible to imagine a pedagogical activity without interactions. Since the school's lockdown, these interactions are mediated and instrumented by the screen. How does the child in front of a TV or radio construct his interactions with his teachers and knowledge? How does the student on his computer, smartphone, or tablet interact with his teachers and co-learners? How have schools ingeniously integrated the teaching of practical subjects in their distance classrooms (simulation among other techniques). Contributions that fall within this theme may explore these and similar questions.

Theme 9: The effects of COVID-19 on the teaching staff

Around this theme, contributors could consider the following questions: To what extent teachers affected compared to the rest of the population are? To what extent could this crisis affect the issue of teacher attrition? Is there a temptation for some teachers to change professions? How do teachers plan to construct their interactions with their students and with each other in the future? What changes are taking place in the school role of teachers, their relationship to teaching materials and knowledge? How can the teaching profession be described in emergencies?

Axis 10: Concepts abstraction

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the emergence or revival of certain pedagogical and sociological concepts that it would be necessary to “conceptualize,” reshape their meanings and renew their understanding. These concepts include confinement, deconfinement, pandemic, pedagogical continuity, physical/social distancing, distance education, distance learning, barrier measures, self-quarantine, or self-isolate. This list is not exhaustive. How have these concepts shaped our cognition and perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on learning and teaching spaces and knowledge of education?

Theme 11: Africa schools in perspective: open projects

If the management of COVID-19 by African schools has revealed their level of adaptability, it also outlines prospects. It opens up projects for a new school in Africa (perhaps). The philosophical and pedagogical reflections under this theme may underline changes in African schools of tomorrow. These changes may concern distance learning, digital education, mediatization of interactions, and access to knowledge. They could also answer the question: What kind of school and educational policy does Africa need to effectively cope with future emergencies such as the one generated by COVID-19?

Submission Guidelines

Around these eleven themes (non-exhaustive), we expect abstracts of about 300 words, including the provisional title and the names and affiliations of the authors.

Please, submit abstracts by 20 July 2020

to the following addresses: beche@beche-emmanuel.com, aoluoni@yahoo.com, barasap@yahoo.co.uk, adamonuka@yahoo.com, and ada.otuoze@gmail.com. The authors will be notified of the acceptance of their proposals on or before 31 July 2020. Manuscripts are due for submission by 30 September 2020. The book will be published by late 2020.

Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Martial Dembélé, University of Montréal, Canada
  • Prof. N'Dri T. Assié-Lumumba, Cornell University, USA
  • Prof. Peter L. Barasa, Alupe University College, Kenya
  • Prof. Adesoji Adeolu Oni, University of Lagos, Nigeria
  • Prof. Adams Onuka, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Prof. Emmanuel Béché, University of Maroua, Cameroon
  • Prof. Pierre Fonkoua, University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon
  • Prof. Onguéné E. Louis-Martin, University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon
  • Prof. Marcelline Djeumeni T., University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon
  • Prof. Dieudonné Leclercq, University of Liège, Belgium
  • Prof. Attenoukon Serge Armel, University of Abomey-Calavi, Bénin
  • Prof. Charles Ochieng' Ong'ondo, Moi University, Eldoret Kenya
  • Prof. Michael Cross, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Prof. Beatrice Liezel Frick, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Prof. Adenike Emeke, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Prof. Kolyang, University of Maroua, Cameroon
  • Prof. Misse Misse, University of Douala, Cameroon
  • Prof. Henry O. Owolabi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  • Prof. Monica N. Odinko, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Prof. Violet Opata, Moi University, Eldoret Kenya
  • Prof. Yeo Soungari, University of Cocody-Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Prof. Idrissa Traoré, University of Bamako, Mali
  • Prof. Daniel K. Schneider, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Prof. Awokou Koukou Raymond, University of Lomé, Togo
  • Prof. De Lièvre Bruno, University of Mons, Belgium
  • Prof. Bamidele Faleye, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

[1] https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse


  • Monday, July 20, 2020


  • COVID-19, Afrique, écoles, continuité pédagogique, éducation à distance, confinement, pandémie


  • Emmanuel Béché
    courriel : beche [dot] emmanuel [at] iudi [dot] org
  • Peter Barasa
    courriel : barasap [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk
  • Adams Onuka
    courriel : adamonuka [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Adesoji Adeolu Oni
    courriel : aoluoni [at] yahoo [dot] com

Information source

  • Emmanuel Béché
    courriel : beche [dot] emmanuel [at] iudi [dot] org


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« African schools in the age of COVID-19 », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, https://doi.org/10.58079/152c

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