How they found the way to school!

unicef-drc-2016-erWe, Emmanuel and Jonathan are Child Reporters living in Lubumbashi in the DRC. Along with our friends Kerenne, Axel and Rudy, we went Saturday, September 17, 2016 in the town of Ruashi. This is one of the 7 towns of Lubumbashi, located in its Northeast part.

Our visit to this county was to learn about the involvement of the Committee of Children in the activities of the 2016-17 school year campaign. We had learned through the Provincial Division for Women, Family and children that the Committee of the Children of Ruashi has been participating since August 2016 in the campaign to enroll children in school.

Discovering the state of education in Ruashi

In the Ruashi commune, as it is the case in other communes of Lubumbashi, one can see many children who do not attend school. While others are in class, they are playing around the school area or simply are engaging in petty trading to help their families out. Those children are unable to pay the registration fees required by the schools.

unicef-drc-ruashi

In order to help increase the number of children attending school and reduce the number of children out of school, the Committee of Children of the Ruashi commune had conducted outreach campaigns to parents and petitions to the school authorities in town for free school access to vulnerable children.

This action of the Committee of Children of Ruashi interested us. We wanted to learn more by asking Pierre, Ralph, Anastasie, and Perpétue, four 16 years old children members of the Committee.

They began by telling us that the Committee for Children was established on July 25th, 2016 to contribute to the promotion of children’s rights with a focus on child participation. This Committee was elected by the children of the town gathered in childcare facilities (schools and associations) after a children’s right training organized by the Provincial Division for Women, Family, and Children with technical and financial support from UNICEF.

A Children Committee mobilized for education

Committee of Children

During our interview the members of the Committee for Children has informed us that:

During the playgrounds organized during the holidays between late July and August 2016, we interviewed children about the next school year. Some of them have told us that they don’t have the opportunity to be enrolled in school because they were orphans, abandoned, or from poor families…

So we decided to educate those parents so they start sending their children to school to better prepare for their future. We asked them to take on the school fees and related costs which total amounts to about $5.00. On our part, we would petition to some school officials to obtain an exemption on the contribution costs required monthly from parents to supplement teachers’ salaries. These costs are estimated at roughly $200.00, an amount too high to be supported by parents with low income.

Our awareness message was welcomed by some parents who committed to enroll their children. Similarly, our petition was successful with some heads of public and private schools in town.

Today, 377 children who did not have the chance to attend school this year, are welcomed in schools that have signed, with our Committee, protocols granting parents the exemption from the annual charges. Parents in return pledged to pay school fees and related costs.

Children benefitting from this decision are in primary school and their ages are between 6 and 13 years.

We continue our actions to enable the registered 377 children group to have a notebook, a pencil, a school bag, and a uniform thanks to the solidarity of other children we intend to sensitize soon.

Our pledge for all children to find the way to school

That’s how Pierre, Ralph, Anastasie, and Perpétue narrated the work of their Committee for the return of 377 vulnerable children to school in the town of Ruashi in Lubumbashi.

We, the children reporters of Lubumbashi, have welcomed the work of the Committee for the Children of Ruashi. We call out to parents about their responsibility to educate their children to better prepare for their future and to the authorities about their obligation to provide basic education for each child. This is one of the children’s rights, as stipulated in Article 28 of the CRC.

“States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: Make primary education compulsory and available free to all”

Committee of Children : more info

Translated from French by Dorsaf James

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