Abidjan/Dakar/Geneva/New York – 5 October 2005 – Following the recent announcement by Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Education of the indefinite postponement of school exams for children in northern Cote d’Ivoire, UNICEF calls upon all parties in Cote d’Ivoire to work together to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken so that every child in Cote d’Ivoire can enjoy their fundamental right to an education.
UNICEF’s call comes at a critical time, following years in which children in Cote d’Ivoire have lived in a situation of instability, and when many schools were closed or looted and teachers had to flee conflict. Beyond their role as learning institutions for children, schools provide an important protective environment and a sense of normalcy for girls, boys and their families, most particularly during times of crisis and instability.
“Cancelling examinations creates despair, fear and despondency about the future, and quite simply robs children of a year of hard work at school”, said UNICEF’s West & Central Africa Regional Director, Gianni Murzi. “Some 58,000 children are negatively affected by the postponement of exams in northern Cote d’Ivoire, and it is already a struggle to achieve basic education in this region of the world.”
Since the start of the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, UNICEF and the entire United Nations system have consistently advocated that all parties respect and assure the right of all children living in Cote d’Ivoire to an education. In recent years, children’s rights to education in the northern and western zone of the country have been particularly affected by instability, a period during which the stability that school represents is most needed by children.
Over the past few months, UN agencies - together with counter-parts and partners - have mobilized the financial, logistical and human resources necessary to ensure the return of children to school and the organization and holding of school exams throughout the country.
However, the postponement of school exams in the north is a clear limitation of children’s right to an education that not only threatens their educational development, but also their physical safety: thousands of children who should be studying for and writing exams, are out on the streets with no certainty of their future. Such a situation exposes children to possible abuse and exploitation, and can also lead to frustration, resentment and anger amongst young people. In a country where peace remains very fragile, this must be avoided at all costs.
UNICEF reiterates its support and engagement to Cote d’Ivoire to ensure that all children in the country have the right to go to school. This right is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by Cote d’Ivoire in 1991.
UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Cote d’Ivoire: Yossouf Oomar, tel: (225) 2121-1806;
Dakar: Yves Willemot, tel: (221) 869-5842; cell (221) 569-1926
Geneva: Damien Personnaz, tel: +41 22 909 5716
or mob: +41 79 216 94 01
New York: Gordon Weiss, 1-212-326-7426