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Education Cannot Wait Secures Future of Children in CAR Conflict Zones — Global Issues


Children in Paoua, Central African Republic, celebrate going to school, which is often interrupted by armed conflicts. They are beneficiaries of a multi-year rehabilitation program led by Education Can’t Wait sponsored by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Plan International, UNICEF and UNHCR. Credit: UNICEF

  • by Jamila Akweley Okertchiri (bangui, central african republic)
  • Joint press service

With a smile on her face, she wrote down the day’s lesson in her book. “I love studying history and French,” says Marguerite.

Children’s education in communities like Paoua has at times been disrupted by military unrest and the intervention of armed groups that keep hundreds of children like Marguerite out of school for months.

“When there were soldiers, we didn’t go to school. We are at home. But I’m glad I can continue my education now,” Marguerite told IPS.

According to the CAR 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), by the end of the 2020-2021 school year (July 2021), 27% of schools are not functioning properly and 65% of children aged 3-17 are not going to school. attend regular school (38% do not attend school at the beginning of the school year, 7% drop out during the year and 20% do not attend school regularly).

In this grim picture, there is some hope. Marguerite and thousands of other children can return to school to continue their education thanks to the investments of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations’ global fund for education in emergencies and crises. long.

Through a multi-year rehabilitation program offered by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Plan International, UNICEF and UNHCR, ECW is funding interventions to ensure access to education in a safe learning environment. , integration and protection for migrant and returning children in CAR.

ECW has supported communities with CAR for the past three years, reaching more than 126,300 children – 41% of which are girls.

“Children and young people participating in CAR are among the most vulnerable in the world. They have endured years of conflict, violence, human rights abuses, extreme poverty and repeated displacement,” said Yasmine Sherif, Education Director Cannot Wait. “Education is crucial to protecting them and empowering them to be the generation that supports a more peaceful and prosperous future for the country.”

The program improves the learning environment with the renovation and construction of classrooms and school infrastructure. It also provides training for teachers, learning materials for school children, birth certificates for children, dignity kits to improve access to education for girls, mental support activities for girls. socio-economic development and skills training for youth in beneficiary communities.

Marguerite told IPS: “I didn’t have school supplies at the beginning of the school year, but with the distribution of learning materials by UNICEF in our school, I have books and whiteboards to write on. “I learned to write properly and I play teacher at home with my sister.”

Noemi Robiati, Director of Education at UNICEF CAR, said ECW funds are also needed to respond to the critical moment of school closures and educational disruption on a national scale caused by Covid19 as well as the ongoing crisis. security crisis after the election.

“ECW support has helped to scale radio education, including through broadcasting lessons on radio stations across the country and broadcasting pre-registered lessons to students. households and schools. Education is a human right, and ECW has played an important role in supporting such a fundamental right for children in CAR,” she said.

Education expert at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Chanel Ntahuba says that with ECW funding, the NRC provides education for children out of school.

“We were able to support the students in the school. We also support out-of-school students through the Seniors Accelerated Learning Program, programs that support children who have been absent for a few weeks or months during the school year due to conflict, as well as through through professional education which we call the Youth Education Package (YEP),” he added.

Ntahuba told IPS that public budget allocations for education are low, accounting for 1.6% of GDP and 13.3% of public expenditures in 2019. As a result, communities hire teachers to ensure that their children come. school.

According to him, these teachers are not paid by the government but through donations from the people. However, in the context of the family struggling to make a living, they cannot afford to pay regular salaries for teachers.

He adds: “This is why with ECW funding, we support paying teachers who are supporting Accelerated Learning, Catch-Up Class as well as teachers in youth class.

Ntahuba further noted that the program supports teacher training to improve teaching quality.

“We train teachers on what to teach, as well as how to prepare and present their lessons,” he points out.

Justine Banguereya, a teacher in Paoua, said that aside from the training she received, the amount of money the program provided to teachers had a huge impact on her livelihood. It also removes the financial burden for parents who cannot afford their children’s schooling.

“Today, I get paid up to 35,000 FCFA (about US$60) per month as an incentive bonus. This program has helped us to face the challenge of the inability of parents and the state to care for the schooling of Central African Republic children,” Banguereya told IPS.

She also mentioned that she became a better teacher after taking the ECW-sponsored training. “I can plan any subject, and I have also learned how to provide psychosocial support and other forms of support in school to vulnerable children, especially young children. girls and children with disabilities.”

Ntahuba says financial support for teachers is one of the program’s greatest achievements, “which is why teachers come to school every day.”

The ECW Foundation also supports awareness campaigns to mobilize parents to send their children to school. “Many parents don’t send their children to school because they prefer to let them do the household chores, gardening and farming, thus not sending them to school,” Ntahuba said.

This is especially important to get more girls in the classroom. “Girls’ education is not prioritized over boys. Keeping schools running and encouraging parents to send their children to school, he explained, are one of the ways girls can escape child marriage and teenage pregnancy.

He added that ECW’s goal is to reach 60% of girls as beneficiaries.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS


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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service





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