Boxer, model and UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter, Ramla Ali, joined students from across the UK for a video call to discuss experiences of learning from home during the first lockdown.
Jackaria and Marina, both 17-years-old from London, Laurence, 15 from Portsmouth and Rowan, 13 from Falkirk in Scotland, opened up to Ramla about how lockdown impacted their education and mental health. The students also shared advice for other children around the world, who have not yet been able to go back to school.
Laurence, whose parents are both key workers, spoke openly about struggling with a lack of motivation when learning from home. He said: “In school you have people there to encourage you and to help you along the way and those people were suddenly not there. I was by myself at home so that was weird. I had to get in the right mood for working and I had to keep that going throughout the months which was quite difficult.”
Jakaria spoke about the difficulties of learning virtually and said: “It’s a lot harder for classes as a whole to engage over Teams. Being involved in class discussions really did help me with a lot of subjects so that was kind of taken away.”
On the video call, Ramla spoke openly about her own experiences of lockdown, during which time her boxing and modelling careers came to a standstill. She said: “The Olympics were cancelled this year and it was something I was working towards. Those months and months leading up to it, all the hours that I’d put into training and all the sacrifices I’d made – that was obviously quite hard for me.” Jackaria and Marina experienced a similar sense of disappointment when their A-levels mock exams were cancelled. Marina said: “It kind of threw me off because I was finally feeling like I was ready. What if I miss the grade and don’t get into university because I have no point of reference to know where I’m working at.”
The students all attend schools which are part of the Rights Respecting Schools Award, a UNICEF UK programme which puts children’s rights at the heart of day-to-day school life, and which is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Children’s rights was a focus of the conversation, with Marina commenting: “It’s really important to me that our right to education was sustained, even not being in school”. Rowan added: “There’s so many things that got taken away from everybody during this whole pandemic, and it’s really important for young people to know why they have these rights.”
The students shared their advice for children and young people around the world, who haven’t been able to return to school. Marina said: “Look after yourself. Not just your physical health but your mental health. Being at home all these months was quite tough on the mind so take time to not worry about school. Obviously education is our priority right now but you have to look after yourself.”
People’s Postcode Lottery support UNICEF education programmes in the UK and in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.