Busime is a 16-year-old girl from the Walungu territory of South Kivu. I met her in Bukavu where, alongside her brother, she sells carrots. She works to pay her school fees. This is her story.
Working hard to pay school fees
“Every morning, I wake up at 4am. I don’t have time to wash up. Instead, I wake up my little brother who sometimes helps me carry the carrots. Then we set out on our walk to Bukavu, which takes about 3 hours. I get up early and arrive among the first at the market so that I can sell all my goods. My father is dead and my mother can’t afford to feed us and pay our school fees at the same time. Mother sells sugar at the market in my village and uses the money she makes to feed us. My brother and I sell the carrots we grow in our field to pay for our school fees. Sometimes I am afraid to lose a school year because I have to earn money”
Not every child can go to school
Busime’s story is similar to that of other children who are forced to work to pay their school fees. According to a Democratic and Health Survey, carried out in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010, around 4 in 10 children (38%) between the ages of 5 and 17 years old work in this way.
This is a contravention of Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which states that “every child has the right to an education and Governments must provide free primary schooling”.
Moreover, article 32 of the very same Convention states that “every child has the right to be protected from work that is harmful to their health, education or development”.
My appeal to educate all children
I ask that:
The appropriate authorities put in place measures to ensure that the articles of the CRC mentioned above are properly respected and that every child has access to an education.
The Congolese government, and in particular the Division of Social Affairs, establishes catch-up schools for those children who have not received primary schooling, because every child should be able to access an education.
Parents live up to their obligations and redouble their efforts to educate their children.
And finally, I demand to the community of South Kivu to not stigmatize children who have to work to pay for their education, nor marginalise them in any way, because all children have the right to a full and decent childhood.
Every child has the right to a childhood
Translated from French by Illen Rowe
Firstly published on November 2017
Marie-Claude est Enfant Reporter de Bukavu depuis 2014. Agée de 17 ans, elle est passionnée des livres. Elle souhaite que tous les enfants soient traités à égalité et sans discrimination.
Marie-Claude is young reporter in Bukavu since 2014. 17 years old, she is passionate about books. She wants every child to be treated equally and without any discrimination.