Valeti’s renewed determination to have her children educated

children to schoolRespecting the Right of the Child to Education is facing a challenge: the  vulnerability of those who have lost their parents, of those who live in poverty, and of others who are  victims of irresponsible parents. We, Angèle, Andry and Aristote, Young Reporters of Ituri conducted a field mission to Mandro, a village 15km from Bunia, where we met with Valeti, a widowed mother who told us her story.

Sending children to school is a real challenge in Djugu

Valeti, who is in her forties, found herself abandoned by her family and in-laws after her husband died and was left on her own to ensure that her three children, one girl and two boys, attend school. Because of her social vulnerability she was unable to send her children to school. « I am the mother of three children who have lost their father. My work in the fields does not provide me with enough to send all my children to school. But I have to make sure they study for their future, because studying is their right. »

Valeti is not the only one with problems: in the Djugu sub-division, where she lives, more than half of the children do not go to school.

Discovering a school in Mandro

As Angèle Wakusumba from UNICEF explained, a social protection project enabled 11.910 of the most vulnerable students from 397 schools in the Djugu sub-division to receive free schooling. This project implemented by Caritas and funded by UNICEF, to enable identified vulnerable children to attend the first three years of primary school, changed Valeti’s life.

This mom was able to receive assistance for her children to attend school at no cost. The children experienced a structured environment and a monitoring of their progress to prevent school drop-out which is so prevalent in the village of Mandro.

In a village where the school drop-out rate is high, this project has helped families, particularly the children, to return to school and to stay.  For Valeti’s family, this was just the help needed to have her children attend school.  The children are happy to go to school, as they are exposed to good teaching – according to their mother. Their progress is also closely monitored  – from what we could see, we who had gone there. Moreover, the project has permitted Valeti to save some money for her children’s further schooling.

« I have had no more money since my husband died, yet I have been able to send my children to school and put some money aside during that time in order to also send the youngest one to school ».

We would like all children to receive an education

This mission showed us that there is always hope to obtain an education, and that with this project it is not always that difficult to get there. 11.910 students is not an enormous number but it’s a great start. And we hope that more vulnerable children can enjoy the same opportunity, to create a better future for all.

The words of Victor Hugo still ring true, « to open a school is to close a prison ».

More info about education in DRC

Photo: UNICEF DRC 2016 Mounet

Translated from French by Marguerite McMillan

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