Today, I am going to tell you the story of Héritier, a 13 year old boy whom I met selling doughnuts by the roadside in the town of Goma, in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Under a punishing sun, Héritier was sitting in the shade of a tree looking sad and very tired. I approached him to find out his story. He quickly told me that he found himself there, selling doughnuts, because his father had abandoned him. His mother, weak from illness, cannot work. Héritier had no choice but to leave school during his fifth year of primary education. After his father left, he knew that he would have to work to ensure his own survival as well as that of his mother. Today he is still working to ensure his family’s survival and there is no possibility of him returning to school. Héritier doesn’t earn enough to pay the school fees.
A child’s place is in school and not at work
If large numbers of children do not attend school, it is because their parents lack the financial means to support their education. However, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that every child has the right to attend school and that primary education should be free.
The government must respect, protect and meet the right of each child to an education. As stated in Article 43 of the Constitution of the DRC, « primary education is compulsory and free ». I also ask parents to fulfil their duty by educating their children and keeping them in school for as long as possible.
A child who is kept out of the school system is a time bomb for the whole of society.
More information about children in DRC
Kindly translated from French by Julia Bayton
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- At age 13, Héritier is working to support his mother - 17 June 2019