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Back to school campaign in eastern DRC

UNICEF concerned about impact of conflict on children’s education

GOMA, 30 November 2007 – A UNICEF Back to School campaign in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has provided 1.5 million students in the Orientale, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema provinces with school supplies and some 40,000 teachers with teaching materials.

The campaign, organized in collaboration with the national education authority EPSP, has reached most schools in eastern DRC, but fighting has limited access in the conflict-affected Masisi and Rutshuru territories in North Kivu, where only 13 per cent and 43 per cent of schools, respectively, have received UNICEF school materials to date.

As a result of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of primary and secondary schoolchildren have had their school year disrupted and, in many instances, have not been able to continue their education. Among the 405,000 internally displaced persons in North Kivu since December 2006, some 81,000 are of primary school age and many of them live in hard-to-reach areas.

Additionally, around 600 teachers have been displaced, which has limited the number of trained teachers available to educate children in the province.

In response, UNICEF and partners registered around 6,000 displaced primary school children in accessible areas and enrolled them in nearby schools.

Where no classroom capacity exists, UNICEF and partners constructed emergency temporary classrooms in schools to ensure displaced students have equal access to education.

To improve education quality, UNICEF started two Mobile Teacher Support Team projects to train teaching staff in the Goma, Masisi and Rutshuru territories which have large numbers of displaced students. 

The support teams are also providing a provisional school support fee to ensure free education for internally displaced children in those schools, and offering psychosocial support to children who have been affected by the fighting and displacement.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Goma, +243 81 230 5933, jmurthy@unicef.org 
Joyce Brandful, UNICEF Kinshasa, +243 81 884 6746, jbrandful@unicef.org 
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, +1-212-326-7426, pmccormick@unicef.org




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