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Burundi's children back to school after years of conflict

© UNICEF 2004
The objective is to boost the primary school enrolment in Burundi where the net school enrolment rate only reaches 56 per cent.

BUJUMBURA, 14 October, 2004- A “Back to school” campaign was launched today by the Government of Burundi supported by UNICEF in collaboration with other UN agencies. The objective is to boost the primary school enrolment in Burundi where the net school enrolment rate only reaches 56 per cent. The campaign is targeting approximately 440,000 children through the distribution of 350 metric tonns basic school materials.

The distribution of school material is complemented by other activities such as rehabilitation of class rooms and water and sanitation facilities in schools, the introduction/extension of school canteens and support to school gardens in addition to the provision of school benches, pupil and teacher’s manuals, black boards, de-worming tablets and uniforms. Training of teachers and the revision of the curriculum will further improve the quality, make schools child friendly and transform schools to safe heavens against violence, abuse and discrimination.  These activities are conducted both by UNICEF and by other UN agencies such as the High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Program (WFP). The United Nations Mission in Burundi (ONUB) and the Tanzanian Government through its Embassy in Bujumbura have contributed to the security measures taken during the transportation of the material.

“This is an important day for the Government of Burundi, the United Nations and for our partners as the campaign “Back to School” represents an integrated part of our common efforts aiming the return to peace and reconciliation”, said the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Ibrahima D. Fall.

The official ceremony, organized by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the entire United Nations system in Burundi, was held in the primary school of Nyabitare in the western province of Ruyigi. Ruyigi is one of the provinces hosting the largest number of returning refugees and Internally Displaced People and the province has been heavily affected by the ten-year long civil conflict. “I came back from Tanzania and could continue school here in Nyabitare, many children like me can not go to school as their parents do not have enough money, but I would like to continue my studies and become a Minister or a President so that I can play a role in the development of my country’ said Salima one of the pupils in 6th grade that received school material on the day of the launch.

“This campaign also aims the empowerment of parents and families so that they can participate in the management of schools in partnership with the school authorities, hence strengthening the development and protection of children in their communities” said the Representative of UNICEF in Burundi Ms. Catherine Mbengue. She also encouraged the Government and Development Partners of Burundi to join efforts to remove all barriers hampering access to basic education for all children with the aim to move towards free and mandatory primary education.

For more information, please contact:

UNICEF: Sara Johansson, Communication Officer,
sjohansson@unicef.org Phone: (257) 950 247





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