Education at home here in South Kivu

As a new schoolyear is starting, it seems very important for me to talk to you about children’s education in the South Kivu province. Education is an essential factor which the child needs in his own interest and in the interest of the nation.

In South Kivu , some children miss the path to school and this is not by their own will.

If thousands of children do not finish the school cycle, it is notably due to exaggerated school fees, lack of schools especially in rural areas, parents’ poverty, recurring wars, illnesses which attack these children but also disability, which deprives children of school. We can also cite our customs, which favour children’s lack of schooling for example by prohibiting girls from going to school. Finally, the fact that parents no longer engage in family planning can lead to children’s lack of schooling, as when there are many children parents do not have the means to send all of them to school.

I will give you some examples.

Take Marcellin’s case, whom I met in Bukavu while he was selling doughnuts. He is eight years old and does not study, because his mother has been repudiated, she lacks the money to pay school fees. Thus, Marcellin no longer goes to school, and lives by selling doughnuts.

There is also Murhula’s case, whom I met in Ciharha when I was in the field in my capacity as children’s parliamentarian in this slightly remote village in the province. At twelve years of age, he carries gravel in a quarry. I was very interested in him as I was really surprised at what he was doing at his age, we became friends and he then told me everything. He does not study because he does not have anyone to pay his school fees: his parents were taken into the forest by rebels seven years ago. Thus, he must fend for something to eat with his brothers.

To tackle the lack of schooling, I would suggest the following:

To the authorities:

–       Make all articles advocating free and compulsory education a reality. Because our parents are often unable to pay all these required fees, which is why too many children stay at home rather than going to school ;

–       Protect children in schools from abuse and all forms of exploitation. Because abuse and exploitation – for example whipping a child excessively, giving him too much extra work, discriminating against him, etc. – can lead a child to give up the path to education;

–       Qualifications for teaching, that is, to provide the infrastructure adapted for teaching and to make didactic materials available. Because this will allow all children to best acquire the knowledge which they must learn in school; and

–       Promote peace, as wars destabilise children’s education. For example, by creating orphans, who can be recruited by negative forces, displaced persons or refugees, by destroying schools, etc.

To parents :

–       Enrol all their children in school without discriminating by race, religion, sex or opinion. Because the child is the future of tomorrow, thanks to education. If parents do not enrol their children in school, it is perhaps also because they target a particular interest for their children, for example to make them become fishermen, shepherds, assistant masons, cultivators, sellers, transporters, etc. and do not recognise the importance of education whatever the child and his future; and

–       Engage in family planning, because as we say “it is through the school door that a nation’s greatness emerges”. This will allow parents to have the means to support each of their children, for example to feed them, ensure their health, pay their school fees, etc.

I am convinced that if the government and parents carried out these responsibilities, children in South Kivu would all be educated.

Let us remember that the child is a source of great wealth for a nation, because it is its future.

Photo: UNICEF RDC 2013 Brett Morton

Translated from French by Anais Joseph

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Hugues est parlementaire des enfants à Bukavu, dans la province du Nord Kivu. Il étudie à l'Institut Bangu en section littéraire et rêve de travailler pour l'enfance, car l'enfant est toujours victime. Il s’est engagé dans le club de paix de chez lui et aime beaucoup son adage "qui aime la paix prépare l'enfant et non la guerre".

Hugues is a children’s parliamentarian in Bukavu, North Kivu. He studies in the literary section of the Institut Bangu and dreams of working for childhood, because the child is always a victim. He has joined the peace club in his neighbourhood and very much likes his motto “whoever loves peace prepares children not war”.

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