Despite the Ebola crisis, the school year resumes in DR CongoFor more than a year, the territories of Beni and Lubero have been at the heart of the Ebola outbreak. The outbreak is occurring in a context of armed conflict. The socio-economic situation of several inhabitants of Beni and Lubero territories has further deteriorated. This is the case, for example, in Nobili and its surroundings, where tens of thousands of people have found refuge, fleeing insecurity and mass killings. This has resulted in a humanitarian crisis to which an urgent response was needed.
With the support of EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and SDC, but also that of the UNICEF-funded Rapid Response Mobile Team, DRC teams were able to deploy rapidly to respond to these emergencies, protect children, meet their protection needs and provide education. Indeed, since May 24th 2019, DRC has extended its implementation area in order to respond to the massive population movement, including in the most difficult areas. This population displacement has been observed since March 2019.
As the education sector is one of the pillars of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in DR Congo, we did not hesitate to provide educational support to IDPs in and around NOBILI.
Having lost everything, many parents were no longer able to pay their children's school fees to complete the school year. The DRC intervention enabled 1,040 sixth-grade primary school students and 215 sixth-grade secondary school students to take part in state examinations at the end of the year. Assistance was also provided to displaced households to cover the cost of their children's school reports, a total of 11,425 schoolchildren were assisted.
Thanks to our donors ECHO and SDC, DRC has been able to support 40 schools in the territories of Beni and Lubero. Early September marked the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year in DR Congo. Thanks to this project, displaced and vulnerable children were able to return to school by means of school kits provided by DRC as well as financial support to cover their school fees.
In schools, DRC supports the establishment of peace committees. These committees are made up of young students of all ages to ensure that children's rights are respected. As Ebola is a new reality for these children, the committee members are setting an example by promoting proper handwashing as an instance and by working together to combat stigma around the epidemic.
"We all have rights, the right to live, to go to school, to have fun... It is important for children to know their rights." President of a peace committee – In one of Mangina’s School
In addition, DRC provides financial support to so-called non-mechanized teachers. The latter are trained but do not appear on the government official lists. By financially supporting these teachers, schools increase their capacity to accommodate more children. This financial motivation is therefore a key element in areas where schools are taking in more children as a result of displacements.
And this year again, despite the announcement of free basic education, DRC will continue to support these children until this measure is effective or until peace and security return to their villages so that their parents can take care of them. Despite the Ebola crisis, the school year resumes to normal, with its reunions, laughter and good mood.