The Francofolies festival promoting children’s enrolment in school

As part of the Francofolies festival, organised in Kinshasa in 2015, we Young Reporters had the opportunity to pass on a message promoting the enrolment of children aged 6 to 7 years in school. Over two days, we addressed different categories of people who play a role in children’s education.

The Junior Francofolies, focused on the campaign to get children enrolled in school, started on Tuesday 8 September, the day after the start of the new school year, at middle school Collège Sœur Anna Fiorelli. It continued on Wednesday 9 September at the Lisanga Cultural Centre in the heart of the BOKELEALE High School. Different artists performed for the children, with TV5 Monde covering the events and in particular, Lexxus Légal and Mr Lazare, the musician usually known as Café DODO.

We spoke out to highlight the importance of education in a person’s life in general and in that of a child in particular, and to encourage parents and other actors in a position to do something to benefit children’s education to get actively involved to ensure that no child is deprived of this essential right.

Education ensures children’s social, moral and intellectual wellbeing, it ensures peace and wellbeing in the community, it gives people a sense of self-worth, and it encourages the country’s development. Educating a child at the recommended age, that is, from 6 or 7 years, allows them to properly intellectually develop and avoid difficulties when with children their own age.

The Congolese Government, in cooperation with its partners, has already made considerable effort in the area of universal primary education, implementing strategies to improve access to primary education such as taking steps to establish a free primary school system, building and renovating schools and providing schools with equipment they need.

The results of surveys on the subject show that there has been a clear improvement, above all in terms of access to primary schooling. According to the Survey on Out of School Children (OOSC) (EADE 2012), the proportion of children out of school fell from 38.5% in 2007 to 28.9% in 2012. The gross enrolment ratio for primary education rose from 90% in 2007 to 110% in 2012.

But the universalisation of primary education and the retention of children until the end of the cycle are still major challenges to overcome, in spite of the significant advances observed. It is for this reason that it is so important that everyone, as far as they are able, work to achieve this goal.

Musicians and others have a role to play too. During an interview with the musician Lexxus Légal, he offered us the following observations:

I am ready to support you in this initiative for the popularisation of enrolling school-age children because I have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. The problem does not loe with children themselves, it is their parents who have the responsibility of enrolling their children in school. But we also need to take into account the socio-economic situation of some households, which prevents them from paying the school fees required for their children’s schooling. That’s why I launched an appeal to the Government for it to undertake measures to support free primary education and allow impoverished children to go to school.”

Following the same line of reasoning, the French journalist Patrick Simonin, TV5, highlighted the role of media such as TV5 in this area: “Congratulations on your initiative aimed at reminding parents and the community of their responsibility to enrol their children in school. The media can play an essential role in this campaign. For me, communicating a message such as this on my channel, TV5, is one way of supporting these dynamic and powerful young people, the Congolese youth.”

It is true that significant work has been undertaken to improve access to education, but there are still 2 million children yet to enrol. This is why we are asking parents to enrol all of their children aged 6 to 7 years in school, without exception, and to work to keep them in school until the end of the entire primary school cycle.

We also ask that the Government secure free primary education to enable impoverished children to go to school, to continue the school building project by taking into account the existing distance between children and their schools and to ensure peace in general, because without peace, children won’t be able to study at all.

Education is the foundation of development in a country; it is in the interest of the nation to ensure that all children go to school.

©UNICEF DRC/2015/Eleanor Hac
Kindly translated from French by Holly-Anne Whyte

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Deo

Déo Deo a 17 ans, il est enfant reporter et finaliste au collège Kivuvu à Bandundu. Il a représenté les enfants de la RDC au Forum de l'espoir des enfants à Bujumbura en juin 2014. Il fut élu ambassadeur du Forum de l'espoir et a représenté les enfants de la Région des grands Lacs au sommet Spécial de la CIRGL sur l'emploi des jeunes. Pour lui, être enfant Reporter est une opportunité qui lui permet de plaider pour l'amélioration de la situation des enfants de sa communauté

Déo is 17 years old, he is a Young Reporter and a student in final year in KIVUVU High School in Bandundu. Deo has represented Congolese childre at the Forum of Hope in Bujumbura in 2014. He was elected as an Amabassador of Hope and represented children from the Great Lakes region at the Special ICGLR Summit on Youth Employment. For him, being a child reporter gives him an opportunity to advocate on improving the situation on children in his community.

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