“I am ready for the state exam”

UNICEF has supported more than 6.8 million students in continuing their learning during the school closures.

Feza Umande (translated from French by Ariane Apodaca)
Bénédicte assise devant chez elle avec sourire
UNICEF Umande
24 July 2020

“I had to go to school the next day but we were asked not to come to school and not to even leave the house”, says Bénédicte Mweze Nakinja, remembering the month of March 2020. Following the declaration of the Coronavirus epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the authorities declared a state of health emergency, forcing the schools to close their doors.

A sixth year secondary student at Saint Ignace College in Kinshasa, Bénédicte was far from imagining that this decision would last and derange her plans. “I should normally be in the process of celebrating my state diploma and thinking about university,” she said, staring blankly.

Bénédicte thought that the schools would be closed for only ten days, but seeing the weeks go by, the girl decided not to waste time. She quickly picked up her notebooks and notes to revise in preparation for the state exam. “It is better to be too prepared than not enough,” said Bénédicte confidently.

With more than 27 million students deprived of education across the country, UNICEF came together alongside the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education to enable them to continue learning at home.

Bénédicte en train de lire ses notes
UNICEF DRC Umande

“I was afraid that it would be a wasted year, but I followed the distance learning courses every day to keep my hopes up,” said Bénédicte, who remained determined to prepare for her exams.

To make revisions less monotonous, Bénédicte created online discussion groups with the students in her class and organised a few revision sessions at her home, scrupulously respecting protective measures. “Everyone must wear a mask, wash their hands when arriving and keep a distance of at least one metre from the other,” explains Bénédicte, who made sure that the review sessions went smoothly.

During the months spent at home, Bénédicte used her family time to learn baking and improve her computer skills. Every day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Bénédicte devoted herself to her studies before spending time in the kitchen with her mother and then behind her father's computer.

“I'm already ready for the state exam,” said Bénédicte confidently.

With the support of USAID and the Global Partnership for Education, more than 6.8 million students have benefited from distance learning thanks to partnerships with 306 radio stations and more than 200,000 workbooks were distributed across the country.