Education in Central African Republic- another casualty of the conflict
YAOUNDE/BANGUI, 23 April 2013 - At least half of schools across the country remain closed, four months after a conflict that has disrupted lives and which is placing the future of Central African children in jeopardy. At present, there is still a small chance that state exams can take place in June, but remedial and make-up classes will be required. There are 746,000 primary school aged children in CAR (6-11 years), 67 per cent of whom were attending school before the crisis. UNICEF estimates that at least 250,000 children who started the 2012-2013 primary school year and 30,000 who were in secondary school are now at risk of losing the entire school year if schools do not re-open in the coming weeks. In total with pre and post crisis figures, there are over one million children out of school in the country of 4.6 million people.Even before the crisis, the education system in CAR was already very weak. The literacy rate in CAR for young women is 27.4 per cent and for young men 51.1 and 65 per cent of teachers are unqualified parents who have volunteered as teachers. An obstacle to school reopening is that teachers who have fled conflict affected areas have yet to return to their communities. Many public institutions, including schools, have been looted of even the most basic supplies. The security situation is not only impeding children and teachers from accessing schools, but it is also preventing emergency distributions to schools for fear of further pillaging.
UNICEF is exploring options to provide safe spaces for children to learn and play in areas as they become accessible and is identifying areas can be prioritized for resumption of educative activities. All children have the right to an education. In cases of conflict, schools can not only protect children, but they also provide children with a sense of normalcy which helps them recover from the trauma of violence and loss. UNICEF is calling on the authorities and all parties to continued conflict to ensure safe access of children, parents and teachers to schools in order to enable their immediate re-opening. “The new government must prioritise protection of and investment in the country’s education system, in order to respect and fulfil children’s basic right to education and to provide this generation of children with hope for a healthy future” said Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF Representative in CAR.
UNICEF works in 190 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
Linda Tom, UNICEF Central African Republic,
Cell: + 236 70 55 02 10,