CHILD REPORTER – It is 10am on Monday 18 September 2017 when an unusual commotion reached my school, the Mont Amba school group, in the municipality of Lemba, in Kinshasa. Details about this day below…
Starting point: a rumour
The commotion was caused by a rumour according to which students had come to take children out of class, and thugs from the ghetto took advantage of the situation and threatened children wearing a uniform.
Troubled by this news, parents ran to school to pick up their children and take them home, considering school had become, on this particular day at least, a dangerous place for children.
Some parents climbed on the walls and argued in front of class doors to remove their children. School authorities refused to release the children, which resulted in words between school officials and some parents and almost got physical.
This distressing sight scared the pupils who weren’t aware of anything. When classes ended, earlier than usual, we realised the rumour had spread in the entire city of Kinshasa and that parents who were taking their children home needed, in order to protect their children, to remove their uniforms.
This pitiful sight of insecurity, especially for the younger school children, peaked when law enforcement arrived, some in military uniforms, carrying weapons.
Whatever the argument, a child’s place is in school
The next day, Tuesday 19 September 2017, an important number of pupils didn’t go back to school. People around me were trying to explain what motivated the alleged people responsible: “improved wages for teachers, parents worried because they can’t afford to send their children to school, etc,”
In such circumstances, I wonder: how is any of this the fault of the children who were traumatised, hardly two weeks after they happily started school? Is preventing children from going to school the way to solve all the issues? Is the fact that children are vulnerable a good enough reason for adults to behave this way?
For the time being, the worry I can share is that not going to school exposes children to danger. Girls risk, among other things, early pregnancies due to the lack of sound activities; boys risk falling into delinquency. Studying in an atmosphere of violence that can occur anytime will certainly lead to the children not being as focused on the subjects taught, which will impact on their results, if the school year ever reaches its term.
My plea for everyone to maintain their commitments
Going through the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), I noticed that those who had signed it had made commitments, such as:
- – A child has the right to appropriate information (article 17)
- – A child has the right to education (article 28)
- – A child has the right to protection (article 19)
The unfortunate events that occurred in schools last week constitute a deprivation of these rights.
We, children and pupils, only ask for one thing: to be able to go to school peacefully and under good protection. This can only be achieved if everyone keeps their commitment to schooling all children, without discrimination.
Thus, to ensure a positive change with regards to right to education and child protection we suggest:
- – Reinforcing the safety of pupils walking around in school uniforms;
- – Giving enough information to children about what they should do should such a commotion occur; and
- – The consistency of children going to school be encouraged by everyone (parents, school officials and political and administrative authorities).
Elève de la 4ème scientifique, Judith est Enfant-Reporter à Kinshasa. Passionnée par la défense des droits des enfants, elle a été initiée à la participation. Elle mène des plaidoyers pour améliorer la situation des enfants dans sa Province.