|© UNICEF/Goma06/John R. Nielsen|
|Teacher kits are packed in Goma with assistance from Supply Division warehouse staff.|
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 26 July 2006 - For many years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the main non-emergency recipient of educational supplies from Supply Division, due in part to the difficulty in finding quality educational supplies in sufficient quantities within the country. UNICEF has procured nearly $10 million worth of educational kits for DRC since 2004. Supply Division has been playing a significant role in the region to ensure that technical specifications, quality of products and procurement procedures are appropriate. The School-in-a-Box kits which contains educational supplies for 80 children and 1 adult, has been adapted to the local situations of children and teachers in DRC. To motivate parents and children, UNICEF is making sure that the educational supplies are in place at the beginning of the new school year each September.
In close consultation with the DRC Country Office and Government, around three million children return to school every year with supplies and kits provided by UNICEF, and over 50,000 teachers have been provided with teaching equipment annually. The role of UNICEF has been multifold: to help the government identify the type of educational supplies needed, to buy them and to distribute them– a challenge in a country where roads are in bad condition, the railways are unreliable, and fighting is still going on in some regions. Currently, the kits are shipped to three entry points: Goma in the Northeast, Kinshasa on the West coast and Lubumbashi in the Southeast. From there, they are sent by plane, truck, boat, and bicycle to distribution points. To save time and money, UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen orders supplies globally and the country office arranges local packing. This strategy also presents the advantage of providing local employment and building local capacity.
After packing, supplies are pre-positioned at distribution sites within the first days of September, to enable local communities, which often include members of parent associations, education officials, local authorities, and international and national NGO partners to start distribution. At the same time, UNICEF mobilizes communities through various sensitization activities to encourage enrolment. By mid-October in 2005, there was a 32 per cent increase in enrolment in grade 1 (36 per cent female and 29 per cent male). UNICEF’s work continues in 2006 with its Supply Division pre-packing approximately 18,000 kits for the coming school year. And as in the past, UNICEF warehouse staff will spend several weeks in Goma, Kinshasa, and Lubumbashi to train local staff and set up packing lines to finalize the packing of over 120,000 education kits.
In 2005, UNICEF procured $87 million worth of educational supplies for around nine million children around the world. UNICEF plans to continue its efforts to support country programmes with an ongoing focus on building local capabilities, supply management and logistics and reviewing kit compositions and packing materials as part of the organization’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education.