Côte d'Ivoire

Stalled peace process threatens children’s education in northern Côte d’Ivoire

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Cancelling exams for children in northern Cote d’Ivoire will rob them of a year’s hard work.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, 6 October 2005 – For the past two years, no school exams have been held in northern Côte d’Ivoire – meaning that children have not been able to advance to the next grade or graduate. Hopes had been high that exams would finally take place this year, but the Ministry of Education has once again decided to postpone them – this time indefinitely – because of the ongoing civil conflict.

Cancelling exams robs children of a year of hard work at school, creating fear and uncertainty about the future. Some 58,000 children are affected by the postponement.

“For two years, these children haven’t taken their exams,” said UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Youssouf Oomar. “Some of them stopped schooling [entirely]. They become easy prey to many things.”

The Ministry of Education cited the security situation as the reason for postponing exams. The peace process in the country is currently stalled. “The fact is that there is no peace and there is no war,” said Mr. Oomar.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Some 58,000 children are affected by the postponement.

Education for building peace

For years, Côte d’Ivoire has been bitterly divided by a conflict fuelled by ethnic divisions. In the north, many schools were closed and many teachers were forced to flee the region.

UNICEF believes that school is not only a learning institution for children, but also a protective environment for boys and girls, particularly during times of crisis. UNICEF is advocating for all parties in Côte d’Ivoire to respect children’s right to an education, and is urging the government to hold exams throughout the country.

“We found education is a good way of building peace,” said Mr. Oomar. “I appeal to everyone to come to reasons and try to get the peace process moving on. Let people live their lives normally, and let children enjoy their childhood, which has been missing for too many years.”


 

 

Audio

6 October 2005:
UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Youssouf Oomar discusses the Ministry of Education’s decision to postpone exams in northern schools.

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