UNICEF aims to ensure all children in Côte d’Ivoire receive an education | Côte d'Ivoire | UNICEF

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Côte d'Ivoire

UNICEF aims to ensure all children in Côte d’Ivoire receive an education

© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire/2011/Asselin
More than 320,000 people fled the country during the conflict, and many more were displaced within the country.

By Louis Vigneault-Dubois

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, 3 November 2011 – Despite the official reopening of schools in Côte d’Ivoire for 2.5 million primary school children, the recent crisis in the aftermath of thepresidential elections has slowed down the economy, leaving a majority of the nation’s families unsure whether they’ll have the means to cover all the miscellaneous school fees.

Difficult economic conditions

UNICEF conducted a survey three weeks before the reopening of schools and found that the conflict that ended in April has had long lasting consequences on the population. At the height of the crisis, more than one million registered children were unable to attend school, due to closed schools, damaged buildings and absent teachers. Some schools were destroyed or occupied by armed groups during the conflict and have yet to be repaired.

“Primary education for children was already difficult before the crisis for poor families and we can imagine that the situation is now worse with the difficult economic conditions,” explained Hervé Ludovic de Lys, UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire. “The strong engagement from the government to guarantee free primary education is certainly a step in the right direction, but we also have to ensure that we can help families bear all associated costs such as school supplies, meals and uniforms.”

© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire/2011/Asselin
An unexploded mortar shell lies on the floor of a classroom at the Genie 2000 school compound, in the city of Abidjan. The school remains closed due to heavy damage sustained during the conflict.

A slow rebuild

While the official reopening date was 24 October, schools will likely reopen progressively over the next few weeks. It is still uncertain how many children will be able to attend primary school now that the situation has returned to normal. In some areas, roads have not been secured and children are not safe on the journey from home to school, preventing some families from sending them out on their own.

UNICEF is working together with the Ministry of Education to help one million children complete their primary education. 500,000 school kits are being distributed across the country, teachers are trained on psychosocial support and rapid rehabilitation work is being undertaken on damaged schools. UNICEF is also encouraging other partners to support primary education by offering free meals in school canteens.



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