EDUCATION – Blanchard, 7, son of a policeman, lives in the suburb of the city of Kikwit in the province of Bandundu. He is the 3rd born in a family of 5 children. His father Hubert had not thought of enrolling him in school in September 2014.
Educate a child
At the end of October, Madame Louise, a volunteer identifying Out-of-School children (OOSC) visited Blanchard’s home and convinced Hubert to enrol him.
Blanchard was enrolled at Ebeya Camp Primary School attached to the military camp, an Educate a Child (EAC) project target school and pilot school for the curricular reform in writing and reading.
According to the national survey on Out-of-School Children (OOSC) conducted in 2012 with the technical support from UNICEF, there are more than 7 million 5-17 year old children who are not enrolled or who do not attend school in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and half of these are 6-11 year olds, the compulsory primary education age.
In Bandundu alone, there are 576,549 5-17 year old OOSC, and approximately half of these are of primary school age.
In an effort to address this issue, the Bandundu Education authorities have set up a mass enrolment campaign that involves the participation of various stakeholders among which inspectors, who undertake several activities to ensure access and quality education for children in their respective areas including monitoring situation at schools, reporting on these, training teachers, coaching teachers as follow-up to trainings, identifying key issues and assisting in coming up with solutions.
Blanchard, a talented boy
In March 2015, Ms. Aime, primary school inspector, visited Blanchard’s class. The class teacher, Ms. Christine was teaching letter “M”. She told the story of a hunter who meets a little animal with a shell on his back and walks slowly. She then asked the students to guess the name of the animal. Blanchard raises his hand up and identifies the animal as a tortoise, in Kikongo “Mfulu” or “Mbati”. Ms. Christine asks him to write the word on the board. He does so correctly and adds that he can draw too.
To the amazement of all his peers, teacher and inspector, Blanchard presents a remarkably well drawn little tortoise.
Asked to draw another object, he draws a car too. Since then, Blanchard has not only become famous in his class but in the whole school. Everyone recognises him as a fine artist.
Unfortunately, Blanchard may not be able to continue his studies due to his family’s financial situation. He comes from a poor family and they cannot afford all the school supplies, uniforms, food, etc. Ms. Aime, the inspector who knows him well and knows how talented he is, is helping Blanchard find someone who can help him continue his studies and realise his dream of becoming a fine artist.
Blanchard: two years later !
Education in DRC
Since September 2010, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has put in place the School Fee Abolition Policy at Primary school level to enable households of low income to send their children to school.
Nevertheless, the 2nd Education System Country Status Report (CSR; Rapport d’Etat du Système Educatif National /RESEN) finalised in 2014 with the support of UNICEF and UNESCO, showed that households contribute up to 75% of education spending, thus placing a heavy burden on families.
7 out of 10 children in DRC are not enrolled or have dropped out of school because their parents cannot afford schools.
Through the Educate a Child programme, UNICEF works with the Government, NGOs, schools and communities to put in place a social protection mechanism that provides financial support for vulnerable children to ensure their schooling and serve as a safety net to keep them in school. Results from implementing this project will be used for advocacy purposes with the Ministries of Finance and Budget to ensure the Government takes over in the long term.
Other strategies in ensuring an effective operationalisation of the School Fee Abolition Policy at Primary school level include using innovative methods to inform parents on the School Fee Abolition Policy at Primary school level, and to receive information on school fee related costs demanded by schools to parents.
Photo: UNICEF DRC 2015 Jean Paul Nico Luketo
Jean Paul Nico Luketo
Jean Paul Nico Luketotravaille à l'UNICEF depuis 2006 dans la province du Bandundu. Tout enfant ne peut se construire qu'à travers l'éducation: aucun enfant ne doit être privé de ce droit. "N'attendons pas que les enfants soient dans le rue pour les aider."
Jean Paul Nico Luketohas been working with UNICEF since 2006, in DRC's Bandundu Province. He believes that no child can develop without education: no child must be denied this right. "Let's not wait for children to be on the streets to helo them."
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