On Monday 5th March 2018, the Minister of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education, Gaston Musemena, officially opened the ‘Water at the heart of science’ exhibition at the UNICEF offices in Kinshasa. After two weeks in the UNICEF head office, the exhibition will be displayed at Lemfu Primary School in N’djili and Kengo Primary School in Ngaliema.
Water at the heart of science
Officials, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations and a large number of pupils from Kinshasa city came together for the event. Mounted by the Institute for Research in Development (IRD) and the Centre for scientific and technical knowledge with the support of the Institut Français, the ‘Water at the heart of science’ exhibition was organised in Kinshasa under the auspices of the ‘Healthy Schools’ programme. Lots of secondary pupils from the city of Kinshasa visited the exhibition.
‘Water at the heart of science’ supports Article 17 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires states to “disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child”. This educational and richly illustrated exhibition leads to a better understanding of the essential role of research in the sustainable management of water, which is a vital resource and essential to development.
An exhibition led by former Child Reporters
For the occasion, the exhibition hosts were largely former Child Reporters. 20 former Child Reporters were trained on hosting and looking after the exhibition equipment over 3 days. The goal was to share information relating to water with Kinshasa pupils and encourage the children to change their behaviour in terms of water management.
Before starting the tour, a session was given over to presenting the advantages of handwashing, the key steps and the correct method for washing hands. Handwashing helps prevent up to 40% of dirty hands diseases!
Lots of topics are explored in this exhibition. During the visit, different modules focus on water sharing, access, quality, treatment and the new challenges.
The exhibition has not only welcomed children. On Thursday 8th March for example, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, different women’s organisations came to explore the modules presented. This was partially motivated by the idea that it is largely women who manage water in society.
Educate to provoke change
The exhibition is already in its third week and the feedback is good in terms of the interest shown by pupils in the issue of water, which is one of the major concerns of the 21st century. We hope that all the information which has been made available in the last two weeks to the almost 2000 visitors – of whom the majority are school pupils – will help to bring about a significant change in waste management, water use and sanitation.
The National Healthy Schools and Villages Program is supported by the UK Cooperation Agency (UKAID). This program has given 15% of the Congolese population living in rural areas access to sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene.
Translated from French by Julia Bayton