YOUNG REPORTERS – We, Shana, Daniella and David, Young Reporters from Ituri, went to meet students from one of the schools in Mandro, a town near the city of Bunia. The goal was to immerse ourselves into the movement for the schooling of vulnerable children in Ituri.
Too many vulnerable children in Ituri do not go to school
What can we do so that all children, even the most vulnerable, such as those who have lost their father or mother or whose parents cannot afford school fees, can go to school?
At the Saint Augustin primary school in Mandro, we went to see the progress of the social protection supported by UNICEF for vulnerable children in the primary schools of the sub-division of Djugu, and to understand at the same time the impact of the school kits distributed to children in their first year of schooling.
Mapenzi, a vulnerable child with a big dream
Mapenzi, 8 years old, smiling and engaged, orphaned, explains to us her path prior to her school life: “I didn’t even know if one day I would be around other children again until the Caritas and Mandro primary school teams selected me amongst the children of the project. I can write my name and understand other things that I could not before.”
She is very young but Mapenzi already has a big dream: to work in an orphanage one day. Why? “As I have benefited from assistance, I would like to get my diploma and then help other children once I am grown. It is good to help others.” Mapenzi, in primary grade, is one of 30 vulnerable children (orphans, abandoned by their families, …) who are benefiting from this project in this school, from the first to the third year.
Do you know about the school kits?
After our meeting with the first year students, one of them made an appeal: “ I would like for the assistance to continue, in light of our parents’ poverty, with the school materials that support us enormously, thank you to UNICEF which never stops fighting for the education of the children of our village.” These children each received pencils, notebooks and other school supplies. In this sub-division, the distribution of school kits to first year students is one of the key actions contributing to keeping a number of school-age children in school.
Did you know that games can also attract children to school?
Mr. Etienne LOBHO, Director of the Saint Augustin primary school, informed us of this. “Enrolment has increased noticeably this year due to the football championship that we organized last year and to certain extracurricular games within the framework of the same project.” The Director requested the continuation of this project, which is scheduled to last only three years, because for him many children, and not only the vulnerable ones, consistently benefit from it. This is something also supported by the parents we contacted.
As was explained to us by Angèle Wakusomb, UNICEF’s Education Specialist in Bunia, this project initially aims to retain 30 vulnerable students in school with a total of 11,910 children across 397 schools in Ituri; and to see the increase in the distribution of school kits to first year children in the Djugu sub-division.
We noticed that this project seems to spread to students of the whole school during recess games organized three times a week, through tutoring sessions for students struggling in reading or mathematics, through the Caritas coordinators following the project, through the construction of latrines for the whole school, etc.
To date, in the Mandro primary school, the enrolment rate has increased as has that of success, whereas the dropout rate progressively decreases.
Education is the entire community’s business
We, Shana, Daniella and David urge the Congolese government and its partners to increase and intensify their efforts in the distribution of kits to children and in supporting the retention of children in school so that these children of today legitimately become the leaders of tomorrow.
« No one comes from a spontaneous generation. » The local community, in the name of African solidarity, must care about at the bare minimum about the future of these children. After all, a child is always a child of a community.
More info about education in DRC
- 20 key figures
- 2016-2017 primary school children enrolment campaign
- Education of children is the responsibility of everyone
Photo: UNICEF DRC 2016 Mounet
Translated from French by Lisa Berthelot
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