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Global Students Reflect on Upcoming School Year Amid COVID-19

Published by Ian Pinnell on

Students sit around a table in Haiti as they prepare to head back to school during COVID-19
Students sit around a table in Haiti as they prepare to head back to school during COVID-19
Students in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Zanmi Lasante)

No matter where you are in the world, this school year is bound to be different—COVID-19 has impacted education systems from Kazakhstan to Canada, moving some schools fully online and others to a hybrid model. And schools around the world are instructing students to wash their hands, wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart from others. 

While campuses may be closed, education must continue. PIH has supported students in Haiti, Malawi and Rwanda for years through social support, helping students pay for textbooks, uniforms, tuition and more. And that support continues amid COVID-19.

As schools prepare to reopen on various timetables—or continue academic years with schools remaining closed—we reached out to some students in our social support programs to learn about their hopes, dreams and concerns for the upcoming year. Here’s what they said.


Haiti: Marco Beni

11 years old | 4th grade | Institution Saint-Simeon

Headshot photo of student Marco Beni smiling. Marco is preparing to head back to school during COVID-19 in HaitiHaiti,
Marco Beni, a student at the Institution Saint-Simeon in Haiti, reflects on the upcoming school year. (Photo courtesy of Zamni Lasante)

What is your favourite thing about school? 

I like when they give homework to do at home.

What are your favourite subjects? Do you have a career goal you’re working toward?

My favourite subject is math. I would like to become a famous soccer player.

How do you feel about the upcoming school year?

I think I need to work harder this school year.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to finishing my studies.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact your education?

Yes, COVID- 19 will impact my education. We may not be able to attend to school. I won’t be able to play and see my friends.


Malawi: Tiyamike Phiri

16 years old | Form 3 | Chiwale Secondary School

What is your favourite thing about school?

Studying and asking questions in class

What are your favourite subjects? Do you have a career goal you’re working toward?

Biology, Chemistry, Agriculture and Mathematics. I would like to be a nurse, because I’ve experienced situations where patients are not attended to because they say there is no one to attend to them, which gives me an impression that there are few professionals in that field and I would like to be of help.

How do you feel about the upcoming school year?

I’m very excited. I missed going to school. It was also very difficult to make progress in school, as there was no one to reach out when we could not understand what we were studying. When schools are open, we can easily reach out to our teachers.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact your education?

We have been delayed. I would have been going into Form 4, but as it is, I’m still in Form 3. I also just want to say that we try as much to prevent spread of the virus—it is possible. Frequent hand washing with soap and wearing of face masks.


Rwanda: Denise Nirere

15 years old | Form 3 | College de l’Immaculée conception de MURAMBA (CIC Muramba)

Denise Nirere, student at College de l’Immaculée conception de MURAMBA (CIC Muramba), reflects on the upcoming school year. (Photo by Albert Ndayisaba / PIH)

Interviewed by Albert Ndayisaba, Butaro POSER Manager

What is your favourite thing about school?

Her favourite thing is playing soccer, and unfortunately there is no playing ground in her neighbouring then she is really missing her soccer team and exercises.

What are your favourite subjects? Do you have a career goal you’re working toward?

Her favourite subjects are English, Biology and Chemistry. Her plan is to choose the combination of languages (English, Kinyarwanda and French or English, Kinyarwanda and Swahili). She is working hard during the COVID-19 lockdown to improve her speaking and writing so that she can pass the national exam and get the combination of her choice.

How do you feel about the upcoming school year?

Denise is very excited about the upcoming school year. Though she is not sure when.

What are you most looking forward to?

Sitting in class with classmates and teacher, and then having fun with classmates during sport time.

Are there any challenges you’re expecting?

Getting school materials is her ultimate challenges—but with Inshuti Mu Buzima support, she is confident.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact your education?

COVID-19 has really impacted her education and life at home during this period. Denise is from historically marginalized group (pygmy) in a family of six children living with a single mother. Last year in November, her mother died from cancer.  Currently, Denise is leading the family and relying on social support provided by local leadership and Inshuti Mu Buzima which means that she is taking care of her siblings and a bit stressed. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The family needs more accompaniment in terms of social support as well as progressively empowering the household to improve the living conditions in the future.

Article originally posted on pih.org.


Meet 17-year-old Blessings Henry who aspires to become a doctor and serve as a role model for young women in her community in Neno, Malawi. 

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