|© UNICEF/DRC-04/23/Katya Marino|
|A teacher distributes UNICEF educational supplies to primary-aged children in the region of Goma, DRC|
COPENHAGEN, 11 April 2005 – After years of war and economic decline, the picture of education is bleak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): 4.6 million children are out of school, of which 2.5 million are girls. The country is one of the 25 countries where UNICEF has intensified efforts to accelerate girls’ education.
One of the main reasons why children, especially girls, do not go to or stay at school, is that the family has to pay for educational supplies such as pens, slates, notebooks, crayons, etc. In 2005, UNICEF has taken on a huge challenge: to provide 2.5 million children – 50% of them girls – and 55,000 teachers with educational supplies in time for the new school year in September 2005. This involves the procurement, production and distribution of 36,000 educational kits. Each student kit contains crayons, exercise books, pens, a ruler, a pencil sharpener and an eraser, as well as a bag to carry the items. Teachers’ kits contain exercise books, pens, white and coloured chalk and a bag.
To save money, and allow even more children to go to school, UNICEF Supply Division will procure the items in bulk on the global market, so as to obtain the best prices. Indeed, large quantities of quality educational supplies are not available locally in the DR Congo. Then, while about 20% of the kits will be packed at the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen, the rest will be shipped to the three entry points of DRC (Goma in the North East, Matadi on the West coast and Lubumbashi in the South East) where at least three local packing lines will be set up.
From there, the kits will be sent by plane, truck, boats and bicycles to distribution points. Headmasters, teachers and children will pick up the supplies and take them to their respective schools. Enabling children to participate ensures that they witness their schools receiving supplies. In some places where the conflict is still going on, UNICEF staff will negotiate with local militia a safe passage for the supplies.
To motivate parents and children, UNICEF will make sure that the educational supplies are in place at the beginning of the new school year. In addition, a strong mobilisation campaign will take place all over the DR Congo, using many media, including a song on girls’ education by a famous Congolese singer.
|© UNICEF/DRC-04/32/Katya Marino|
|Teachers pick up educational kits for their classes from a distribution point and take them to their schools on their bicycles.|
For many years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the main non-emergency recipient of educational supplies from Supply Division, because it is difficult to find quality educational supplies in sufficient quantities in the country. In 2004, Supply Division, in close consultation with the Country Office, procured over $2.5 million worth of educational kits to DRC.
Globally, UNICEF procured $71 million worth of educational supplies in 2004. Supply Division procured enough school-in-a-box kits (including replenishment kits) to send nearly 10 million children back to school. The school-in-a-box and the recreation kit have become part of UNICEF’s standard response in emergency and post-emergency situations. In some countries, the kits are adapted to respond better to local needs and context. The increase in education supplies also reflects UNICEF’s special focus on girl’s education in 25 countries.
UNICEF is committed to assisting in re-opening schools and establishing teaching and recreational facilities in the first six to eight weeks after an emergency – whether a natural disaster or conflict. In the longer term, educational rehabilitation programmes can span several years and include intense supply procurement and distribution activity.