Seven out of ten children do not go to school, or have abandoned it because their parents cannot afford to pay the fees. In Mbandaka, a town in the Equateur Province, the community is mobilizing to make sure that every child goes to school.
Between meetings and negotiations
In the Mbandaka periphery not far from the airport, the Protection Community of the Air Congo neighborhood meets every Saturday. “At every meeting, we each contribute 200 Congolese francs”, explains the Chairperson of the Community, Samy Bafano.
“We use the funds to pay the school fees of ten children. We register 44 additional children in school with the certificates of indigency issued by the Department of Social Affairs”.
“Public schools accept the certificates of indigency, but for the private schools, we have to negotiate with the school officials on a case-by-case basis. For example, the Elikia Catholic School only accepted one of the children we presented to them and since the children were sisters, it was difficult for us to separate them. So we had to pay the school fees for one of them”.
Bicycles for the payment of school fees
To help the Protection Community of the Air Congo neighborhood raise more money, the Department of Social Affairs gave them three bicycles at the end of December 2016 to enable them to start a bicycle taxi service.
“We rent out these bicycles for the price of 3000 francs (€3) per day, and after 3 months, the bicycles belongs to the rider. The rental price helps us to pay school fees. We also save a portion of the funds to increase the size of the business. Today, we own 5 bicycles and we plan to buy two more in July”.
« I hope to become a seamstress with my own company»
15-year old Carmelle is one of the beneficiaries of this system. The Protection Community of the Air Congo neighborhood has been paying her school fees for two years now.
“I have never known my father and my mother left me with my grandmother when I was born because she did not have the means with which to raise me. My grandmother managed, with difficulties, to pay my school fees up to the first year of secondary school. Then I spent a whole year without going to school. I was selling oranges in town. Now, I am in the 3rd year of the ‘dressmaking program’. Later, I wish to become a seamstress and own my own company”.
Guarantee the protection of the most vulnerable children
UNICEF aims to create a favorable environment for children’s rights. The setting up of Protection Communities at the local level is facilitating the indexing of children by the communities themselves while liaising with state institutions in charge of social affairs.
Since opening its doors in Mbandaka in 2006, UNICEF has established a partnership with the Department of Social Affairs to guarantee the protection of the most vulnerable children. This multi-sectoral partnership aims to help unaccompanied children, victims of sexual violence, people affected by extreme poverty, or those in conflict with the law.
Traduit par Felix Awung
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu s’est intéressé à la photographie alors qu’il travaillait en Afrique pour des ONG humanitaires. Professionnel depuis avril 2010, son travail est régulièrement récompensé. Il travaille régulièrement pour UNICEF RDC en tant que consultant photographique.
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu became interested in photography while working in Africa for humanitarian NGOs. Professional since 2010, his work is regularly rewarded. He's a photography consultant for UNICEF DRC.
Latest posts by Gwenn Dubourthoumieu (see all)
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