BANGUI, Central African Republic, 9 May 2014 – More than half way through the 12-month school year, almost two thirds of schools in the Central African Republic remain closed, a recent survey by UNICEF and partners reveals.
“The education system is literally on its knees,” said Souleymane Diabaté, UNICEF Representative in Central African Republic. “Many teachers have not been paid for months; there are no textbooks; the little infrastructure that existed before the crisis has been damaged.”
The crisis in Central African Republic has already disrupted two school years since the end of 2012 and many families are still too scared to send their children back to classes.
The survey’s findings paint a grim picture:
On average, schools have only been open for four weeks since October last year due to the destruction of classrooms, the slow return of teachers to duty posts and delayed payment of teachers’ salaries. A third of 355 surveyed schools have been attacked in recent months – struck by bullets, set on fire, looted or occupied by armed groups.
Enrollment figures dropped drastically: One in three children who were enrolled in the last school year did not go back to school this year.
“Families, homes, stability – so much has been taken from children during this crisis,” said Diabaté. “They cannot be robbed of education, their best hope for a better and more peaceful future.”
UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education’s efforts to provide school supplies, restore looted schools and offer teacher training.
In areas where insecurity has hindered the resumption of educational activities, including the capital Bangui, UNICEF and partner organizations set up nearly 120 temporary learning spaces where up to 23,000 children and adolescents have the opportunity to learn, play and receive psychosocial support.
UNICEF’s education programmes remain, however, grossly underfunded. Only US$3 million has been received so far out of a total US$10 million needed to help children resume their learning.
"It’s important for us that children go to school because if they stay like this too long, they will forget what they have learned," says Nguinissara Rita, a primary school teacher in a site for internally displaced persons in Bangui.
Note to editors
The data above are based on a telephone survey of 355 schools in 16 of the prefectures in Central African Republic. The survey was carried out in February 2014 by the Education Cluster – led by UNICEF and with participation from the Ministry of Education, the World Food Program and the non-governmental organizations COOPI, Cordaid, Danish Refugee Council and JUPEDEC.
For the past two years, the school year in Central African Republic lasts for 12 months to allow students to catch up on missed classes.
Photos and b-roll of the situation of children in the Central African Republic are available on: http://weshare.unicef.org/mediaresources
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