No education means no future

laetitia-malira-enfant-reporterLong live the new school year! The lovely sight of a Congolese uniform: blue and white, of children making the journey back to school, enlivens all the streets and alleys of the city of Goma. It’s also a very hopeful image: it’s through education that futures are built. Three days before the start of the new school year, 02 September 2016 to be precise, UNICEF organised a press coffee morning, which Jospin and I attended, alongside media professionals.

Education in Nord-Kivu

So that we had a better understanding of the educational situation in our province, Madame Agnès Katavali, education officer at UNICEF, gave a presentation on the enquiry carried out by UNICEF and its partners on the educational situation in the Nord-Kivu province for the year 2013-14. We learned that only 56.3% of children (boys and girls) attend primary school, whilst the national average is 69.1%; our province shows a gap of 12.7% compared with the national average. And so, Nord-Kivu remains one of the provinces with the highest rate of educational wastage, as a result of various conflicts which have prevailed there over several decades.

cafe-de-presse-back-to-school

In response to my question about what UNICEF does for the education of children in our province, Madame Agnès told me that: “ based on the multiple aspects harming access to education such as: parents’ low level of education, low household incomes, the long distance of schools from certain areas, to name just a few, UNICEF has developed three main strategies which can facilitate access to primary education for all children whose ages vary between 6 and 7 years: parental education, improving literacy to make parents more aware of how to enrol their children in school; a campaign for raising awareness on the importance of enrolling children in school, and providing school supplies for those newly enrolled in the first year of school. ”

Imani’s long journey to school

The day after the press coffee morning, we went to Bweremana, 40km from Goma, the administrative centre of the North-Kivu province, where the provincial ministry for education had launched the new school year. We met a young boy named Imani who spoke to us briefly about his journey to school which, as well as being interesting, is moreover one of the elements allowing us to carry out concrete action, to make appeals at our level to eradicate the problem of school drop-outs. Imani was enrolled in a school far from his home.

Despite the distance, at first he was very keen to get to school and to learn. After school he had to help his parents with housework. After a while, he began to wake up tired from the previous day and would arrive late for school. Due to being repeatedly late, even when he wasn’t punished he would miss a large part of the work set out for the day, and was falling behind the others. He became demoralised and felt compelled to give up his studies, telling himself that it just wasn’t for him. And just like that, he ruined his future in the fields, with a hoe at his hip.

My appeal for education

Cases like Imani’s prove that dropping out due to the distance of the school is quite common, but I am only citing this one in my appeal for us to act for the wellbeing of the Congolese child, and especially those in North Kivu.

In view of what has been said above, I would ask that:

⇒ No child reporter ever gives up on defending the rights of all Congolese children ;

⇒ The whole community actively participates in the campaign for enrolling all children in school and discourages anything which prevents children from going to school in one way or another ;

Political decision-makers reinforce the collaboration between UNICEF and the government of the DRC in terms of building schools which favour those in need (those who travel a long distance to go to school) and ensure the right application of the measures taken in favour of the education of children, since school creates futures for children!

More info about education in DRC

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Laetitia

Laetitia a 14 ans et elle est enfant reporter de la ville de Goma ainsi que présidente de la commission Education Jeux Culture et Loisirs du Parlement d'enfants. Défendre les droits de ses semblables est l'une de ses plus grandes passions. Plus tard, Laetitia aimerait devenir une grande journaliste sans s'écarter du domaine de la défense des droits des enfants pour changer le monde. Son credo: « L'enfance congolaise est une arme de construction massive »

Laetitia is 14 and a young reporter from Goma, as well as Chair of the Committee for Education, Games, Culture and Entertainment in the Children's Parliament. Defending the rights of her peers is one of her greatest passions. When she is older, Laetitia would like to become a great journalist, maintaining her dedication to the defense of children's rights to change the world. Her credo: "Congolese children are a weapon of mass construction."

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