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Tunisia: Psychiatrist Warns of Lockdown Dangers for Children

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Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi stated that another lockdown is not in view in Tunisia – in spite of a climb in coronavirus infections. International flights resumed on 27 June and students have been back in class since last week, after a six-month hiatus. For this 13-year-old teenager, it will not be easy to catch up.

Haider Dridi, a 13-year-old student, expresses his concerns, “I’m worried because in seventh grade we didn’t study well and I didn’t understand well and that’s why I’m worried that I don’t understand anything. In seventh grade, we didn’t study in the third term, which is important.”

Maherzia Dridi, Haider Dridi’s mother is also a little worried about how her son might cope upon going back to school, “The children got used to the rhythm, staying up late and the tablets. We hope that teachers will be up to speed and will be able to bring them back to the school rhythm and that they will all be okay.

Between schools being shut down and limited internet access, the Covid-19 pandemic has harmed educational systems around the globe. And child psychiatrist, Mariam Boudali, believes school goes beyond academics, “School does not only have an academic role. It is also a place where you learn about social life. Of course, children learn to read and write but they also learn to integrate themselves with their peers, to play and live in a mini-society that is their class. So, indeed, lockdown in general and not going to school can upset not only the child’s learning but I would even say well-being and life.”

At the height of the lockdown, 1.5 billion children were affected by school closures, which UNICEF described as “a global education emergency” and the economic impact has been felt worldwide.