In two of the most conflict-affected provinces in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), approximately 750,000 children’s education has been disrupted.
At least 2,100 schools in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have been forced to close between January 2022 and March 2023 due to the deteriorating security situation, according to new UNICEF figures.
The nearly 240,000 children who have recently been forced from their homes and are living in the vast camps surrounding Goma have suffered the most from the uncertainty. Thousands of families have been driven from their homes in search of safety by armed groups, preventing their children from attending school.
Grant Leaity, a representative for UNICEF, stated, “School-aged children are paying an unacceptable price for the growing conflict and insecurity in eastern DRC.” Hundreds of thousands of children, who ought to be learning in a safe environment in the classroom, have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and are now living in terrible conditions in vast, overcrowded camps.
The size of the emergency implies that most of youngsters living in the uprooting camps can’t go to class by any means, with just a minority of kids ready to get to UNICEF-upheld Kid Cordial Spaces or Impermanent Learning Communities.
There are not many offices for dislodged youngsters to sit their last tests of the year in June and get formal capabilities.
The data, which were compiled by an education coordination group led by UNICEF and made up of national authorities as well as a network of local and international NGOs in Ituri and North Kivu, demonstrate that:
- 119 schools have been attacked, occupied or temporarily used by armed groups.
- Nearly 1,700 schools have been forced to close due to persistent insecurity (mostly because they are in areas controlled by armed groups.)
- Nearly 300 schools cannot operate because they are being used as shelter by people displaced by conflict.
- Separate UN figures published earlier this year show that conflict in the east of the DRC has displaced more than 5.3 million people, with more than 800,000 people forced to flee their homes in North Kivu alone since the start of the M23 crisis in March 2022.
In addition to training teachers on pertinent subjects like child psychosocial support, UNICEF is supporting the construction of Temporary Learning Spaces and providing students with school supplies.
Following an earlier distribution of chairs and tables for teachers, UNICEF also provided more than 10,320 displaced and host community students in the Ituri provincial capital of Bunia with educational and recreational supplies in March 2023.
In order to get a clear picture of how many children are left behind without access to an education, UNICEF has made it a priority to keep an accurate record of school closures and attacks on schools in eastern DRC.