Thousands of children affected by conflict take end of primary school exam in eastern DRC
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma/Kinshasa, 7 June 2013 - Amidst continued conflict in eastern DRC, the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education of DRC (EPSP), UNICEF and Education Cluster members in North and South Kivu help over 7,950 children from displaced, returning and host communities complete the primary school exit exam, known as TENAFEP on 6 June.
In May 2013, thousands of families were displaced once again when clashes resumed in Mutaho, roughly 10 kilometers from North Kivu’s capital Goma. The newly displaced people found refuge in the internally displaced person (IDP) sites of Mugunga I, Mugunga III, Buhimba, Bulengo and Sotraki. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), North Kivu province is home to more than 973,000 IDPs, representing more than one third of the 2.6 million displaced people in the country. Around 50% of the IDPs are children. “Education is the right of every child. No matter the circumstances,” stated Barbara Bentein, UNICEF Representative in DRC. “Helping children get a quality education means protecting them from harm while preparing for their future. This is our responsibility as parents and adults.”
On the 1st of June, the Ministry of Education instructed Heads of exam centers to accept all candidates despite non-payment of exam fees. Displaced children at the 6th grade level were identified in IDP sites in and around Goma, and referred to nearby schools. Since the beginning of the school year in September 2012, the Ministry and its partners distributed school material such as pens, pencils and rulers to nearly 120,000 children in IDP sites and host communities in North and South Kivu, and organized catch-up classes for 23,006 children who had interrupted their schooling due to the conflict. To improve and adjust their skills, 1,125 teachers were trained on psychosocial support, child protection and other emergency related topics. 30 child friendly spaces were established to provide psychosocial care and recreational activities for about 36,000 children every day, to mitigate the impact of traumatizing situations they experienced and ensure children with specific needs receive the attention they need.
“All Congolese children, displaced, returnee or living in more stable areas, must have access to normal schooling, including the end of cycle exams,” declared Maker Mwangu Famba, Minister of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education of DRC. “We are concerned about children not being able to take exams, as their schooling will never be accounted for. Communities, partners and the Government should do their utmost for all children to take the TENAFEP. That’s our commitment.”
Notes to the editors
As lead of the education cluster UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education of DRC (EPSP) and various international and national NGOs, including the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Foundation AVSI (AVSI), CARE , Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Handicap International, International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children, World Vision, War Child Holland, Caritas, Alpha Ujuvi, CAAP, Observatoire des Droits Humains (ODH), International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, IEDA, RHA, Réseau des Associations Congolaises de Jeunes contre le SIDA (RACOJ) and SYLAM.
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.
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