My name is Ignace, and I live in Bikoro, a town in Equateur province in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I am not here today to talk to you about the Ebola epidemic, but rather about another problem entirely, which we children are facing in Bikoro.
I am a student in my sixth year of secondary school and, for several years, we have no longer been receiving school reports. Despite the fact that our parents pay 1,500 – 2,000 Congolese Francs in fees, the school years end without reports. This situation is widespread across all schools in Bikoro and this impacts us greatly. We have no evidence to prove that we have passed the school year and we have to sort out our own report cards in order to be able to enrol in the next grade. The report card trade is big business here in Bikoro!
If we don’t have report cards, our school records are incomplete, and we get thrown out of school. However, education is a right of every child, as stipulated in articles 28 and 29 of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
With the Young Reporters, we went to meet the provincial sub-division of the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education. They explained to us that report cards were standardised across the whole country by the Ministry, which explains the delays in receiving report cards. But there have been no report cards in Bikoro for several years… I have just sat the state exams, which mark the end of secondary level studies, and I do not know if I will have an official document in order to enrol at university.
We are asking both national and provincial-level authorities to fulfil their duty so that all children may benefit from their rights, and so that parents have the heart to pay the money due each year for report cards!
Translated from French by Amber Sherman