In CAR capital, Bangui, UNICEF and partners set up temporary classrooms for over 20,000 displaced children
BANGUI/DAKAR/GENEVA, 4 February 2014 - More than 20,000 children in the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui, will start classes in temporary learning spaces after violence forced them to flee their homes and closed down their schools.
While all schools in the capital have been closed since early December 2013, UNICEF and partners are setting up more than 100 temporary learning spaces at displacement sites in Bangui. Over 40 are already functioning and 160 teachers have received early childhood development training from UNICEF to give classes to children from 3 – 5 years of age.
“If the displaced children cannot go back to schools, classrooms should come to them,” says UNICEF Deputy Representative in Central African Republic, Judith Léveillée. “This is the idea behind the temporary learning spaces. As soon as security allows it, the safe and permanent return of all teachers and students to schools is a crucial step on the road to peace and reconciliation,” she adds.
“Children have lost several months of schooling since the crisis started,” Ms Léveillée says. “It’s urgent for them to get access to a place where they can learn safely. Returning to class gives children a sense of a return to normalcy, stability, and hope for the future.”
“I want the children in my class to forget the bad things they have seen. I want to make sure that they don’t turn to violence and retribution, but learn honesty and gentleness,” says Antoinette, one of the teachers at the UNICEF training. “A country without education has no future,” she adds.
The basic right to education is most at risk during times of crisis, but schools not only provide children with a safe place to learn, they are also an important part of the recovery process, says UNICEF.
Nearly half of Bangui’s residents who fled the violent clashes are still living in makeshift displacement camps. Over the past year, 65 per cent of 176 inspected schools across the country have been looted, according to UNICEF.
UNICEF is working with 11 NGO implementing partners in establishing the temporary learning spaces.
UNICEF’s appeal for emergency operations in Central African Republic this year is for $62 million. The current funding shortfall is $59 million.
Note to editors
For more information, please contact:
Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF WCARO,
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Geneva,