Studying is Not Easy for the Children in Mambasa

Everyone has a role to play in educating children. Unlike the other territories of Ituri, Mambasa has its own particularity.  Few schools, long distances between the schools, poverty, and so on, are all problems that the children of this territory have to face in order to study. Find out about the activities of the door-to-door campaign around 200 km from Bunia.

Insufficient Schools to Ensure the Children’s Education

The campaign, “Back to School” was launched this year in Mambasa territory by the Provincial Education Minister. Admittedly it is a large sub-division, but the lack of schools is a major problem for children’s education. Mambasa was chosen as the previous school year’s door-to-door campaign, aimed at getting children aged 6 to 7 back to school after the start of the school year, was not successful. We accompanied the EPSP and UNICEF team in order to report on the progress of the campaign for this school year.

A classroom of Bandisende primary school

Bandisende primary school, 40km from the centre of Mambasa, is one of the fifteen or so schools we visited. In this school, the door-to-door campaign to raise awareness among parents who keep their 6 to 7-year-olds at home of the need to enrol them in year one of school, is already having an impact.

“Yesterday, after our home visits, we had 9 new children enrolled in year one.  And today, whilst the campaign continues, 10 others came for the first-year class,” said Mr Fikili, the school’s head teacher. For the campaign to succeed, 4 categories of people are involved. A head teacher and a teacher, a COPA member (community of parents) accompanied by a community leader.

Off-putting Distances for the Children

The distance between primary schools is considerable. It is an unhappy situation for the children who have to travel 10 or so kilometres to get to school. The head of the association BABOMBI, Mr Jean, also involved in the campaign, makes the case for schools to be closer together: “The government needs to build new schools to allow closer proximity of schools among the villages. How would you like a 6-year-old to travel more than 10 kilometres a day?”

It is important to note that, in this territory of 36,783 km2 there are villages who don’t have schools. Some schools are between 20 and 60 km apart from each other. And others more than 60 km.

Difficult Costs for Parents to Meet

In the centre of Mambasa, when Aristote and I were going from house to house raising awareness amongst parents, we met Cristina. This grandmother sends her 6 orphaned grandchildren to school. How on earth can she manage to take responsibility for all of them? “There’s no work these days. To send my grandchildren to school I sell sugar cane. They talk about it being free and yet every month the school asks us for money.” Cristina pays between 2,500 CDF and 7,500 CDF every month for her grandchildren. Fortunately for her, the community helps her with schooling.

A hundred or so metres away, Esher has 6 children. Unfortunately, only 3 of these 6 children go to school. “I am a widow, even when selling palm oil I struggle to pay the school fees. Not to mention food and other expenses for the children,” she says, expressing concern. Family members do not visit to relieve this widow’s suffering. Esher’s situation is not uncommon.

Objective: 176,500 children aged 6 to 7 enrolled in the Province

The “back to school” campaing in action on the field

Angèle Wakusomba, UNICEF Education Manager in Ituri, reports that for this school year the objective is to enrol 176,500 children aged 6 to 7 across the province. Furthermore, for the door-to-door campaign, it is expected to get 23,000 children enrolled and back to school. The door-to-door awareness team has registered several children aged 6 to 7 who are still at home one month into the start of the school year. During the campaign Madame Angèle has insisted on keeping children in school through the efforts of parents.

Mambasa territory represents 56% of Ituri province, which makes it the largest sub-division but, unfortunately, with few schools. I reiterate the plea made by the head of the BABOMBI Association but also that of thousands of children and parents in this region who want a number of new schools to be built to enable the children to study without too much hardship. Living far from a centre must not in any way deprive a child of education.

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David

David a rejoint le Club d'Ecoute pour Enfants en 2012. Deux ans après, il en est devenu le porte-parole puis en 2015, le coordonnateur. La même année, David est devenu Enfant Reporter. Il présente également diverses émissions sur les droits de l'Enfant. "Parler des droits de l'Enfant via les médias, c'est ma préférence". David étudie le droit à Bunia et rêve de travailler à la défense des droits des plus vulnérables.

David joined the Children's Listening Club in 2012. Two years later, David became the spokesperson and in 2015 the coordinator. That same year, David became a child reporter. Since 2014, David has hosted various programmes on child rights.  "I want to use the media to talk about child rights”. David studies law in Bunia and dreams of working to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. He says he will always work for children.

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