Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 25 April 2011 – UNICEF is ready to assist over one million children to return to school after months of disruption to the education system, caused by the political and security crisis that engulfed the country in the run up and aftermath to the 2010 presidential elections.
“Children have been particularly affected by the recent crisis, and the school can play a key role in reconciliation between children,” said Hervé Ludovic de Lys, UNICEF Designated Representative in Côte d’Ivoire. “UNICEF has ordered school and teachers' supplies to help kick-start the back-to-school campaign, and we will work closely with education authorities and NGO partners to reach out to teachers and children and distribute the materials.”
Since the beginning of the current school year, over one million children weren't able to attend class because schools remained closed in most of the country due to violence, population displacement and civil unrest. UNICEF was able to assist 15,000 children to attend class where schools were functioning. United Nations and UNICEF advocacy efforts helped lead to the re-opening of schools.
Since 28 March, schools have begun to reopen in the north of the country, but remained seriously disrupted in Abidjan, the economic capital. UNICEF has worked closely with regional school districts to gather information and identify specific needs to help schools resume classes as swiftly as possible. Lack of adequate classrooms and supplies is hindering efforts to reopen immediately. Moreover, the education system is facing numerous challenges in Côte d’Ivoire. Some schools are still used as sites to host displaced people, while others have to cope with additional displaced children resulting in overcrowded classrooms.
Education Minister Kandia Camara has called for schools to reopen throughout the country as of 26 April. However, many schools were damaged over the past months and need structural rehabilitation before class can resume. Also, many teachers are still displaced, fearing insecurity in the vicinity of their homes.
UNICEF is set to work in close collaboration with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that schools reopen is effective across the country as soon as possible. UNICEF is seeking $6(USD) million to provide materials, teacher training, incentives for volunteer teachers and community mobilization to support the back-to-school campaign.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For further information, please contact:
Louis Vigneault-Dubois, Head of Communication, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire
Tel: (+225) 04 03 50 44