Abidjan/Dakar/Geneva – 28 February 2006 – After more than 2 school years in which primary and high school students in the Northern Zone of Côte d'Ivoire have not been able to be complete their schooling with official exams at 3 key academic levels – certificate of primary school, certificate of the first cycle of the high school and the final certificate of high school (the so called baccalaureat) - the Government of Côte d'Ivoire has decided to organize these 3 exams in the Northern Zone. This will allow more than 80,000 students to write their exams and continue with their education.
UNICEF applauds this government initiative, which represents positive progress towards normalizing the lives of children in Côte d'Ivoire, and ends the violation of one of children's most basic rights: the right to an education, as stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention was ratified by Côte d'Ivoire in 1991.
Furthermore, the Ivorian government's commitment to commence the re-deployment of teaching personnel represents hope for all children and families living in Côte d'Ivoire, particularly those living in the regions most affected by the crisis.
Over the past 3 years, the majority of children in the Northern Zone of the country have had their right to education violated due to the ongoing crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, despite the efforts of communities, national and international NGOs, the UN System and technical and financial partners for education in Côte d'Ivoire.
More than 1 million children were denied their right to education since the start of the crisis because teachers fled the region and because communities lost confidence in schools in which classroom learning was no longer officially validated by the standard exam process.
UNICEF has continued throughout the crisis to promote access to education for the children of Côte d`Ivoire through the organization of satellite schools and the distribution of education kits for children and teachers and through psycho social programs for children affected by the crisis. In 2005 UNICEF mobilized all UN agencies to work together for a back-to-school program. This program continues today. 200 schools have been re-equipped with material, 550.000 education kits have been distributed with a special attention for girls, social mobilization activities have been organized, and radio and television have been mobilized to broadcast messages on the right of every child to education.
UNICEF reiterates its commitment and engagement in support of the Ivorian government to restore access to quality education for all children living in Côte d'Ivoire and strongly supports the official opening of schools in the Northern Zone, to be held in the coming days.
For more information :
Côte d’Ivoire : Youssouf Oomar, Representative UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire, tel: (225) 2121-1806; cell: 0596-8008
Dakar : Yves Willemot, Regional Communication Officer, tel: (221) 869-5842; cell (221) 569 - 1926 Geneva : Damien Personnaz, Communication officer; tel: +41 22 909 5716 or mob: +41 79 216 9416
New York : Gordon Weiss, Communication, +1-212-326-7426