Nelva is happy to be returning to school
UNICEF is helping Kamonia’s vulnerable girls to return to school and complete their studies.
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Nelva is one of the eldest students in her sixth year class at Luebo Primary School in Kamonia, in Kasaï province. At 16 years of age, Nelva will take part in the national end of primary assessments this year, after spending a long time out of school. “I spent three years living with my elder sister, working as her maid, whilst my friends were going to school,” recalls Nelva, who was tasked with all domestic work and caring for her nephews.
Nelva never expected to return to school as her sister was firmly opposed to it. “My sister and her husband tore up my uniform and confiscated my exercise books,” the teenager remembers. Nelva’s elder brother, who was concerned for her future, took her into his care and, having heard about an opportunity for girls wanting to resume their studies, pointed her in the right direction. “I received a uniform, a bag of exercise books”, explains Nelva, who now studies in a school supported by UNICEF as part of a pilot project funded by the UK embassy in the DRC.
Nelva now feels fulfilled at school. “We study in good conditions and we are happy,” she explains. UNICEF has installed new benches and a toilet reserved for girls, allowing them to easily manage their menstrual hygiene. “When I am on my period, I ask the teacher to accompany me to get a sanitary towel, I change and then I return to the classroom to continue lessons,” Nelva explains.
Thanks to awareness raising within communities, the number of girls in Luebo Primary School has sky-rocketed, going from 202 to 417 girls for the 2022-23 school year. As for Nelva, she is determined to go all the way with her education. “I dream of being president of the Republic and showing my sister that she was wrong to refuse me the right to an education,” she says.
Thanks to the generous support of the British Embassy in the DRC, UNICEF is implementing a pilot project in Kamonia to improve access to quality education for vulnerable children, especially girls. This project addresses all the issues related to girls’ schooling, through among other things, improving learning conditions and sanitation in schools, improving the quality of education, combating gender-based sexual violence and creating spaces for dialogue and empowerment for women and girls.