More and more children are being deprived of education in the Republic of the Congo over a protracted conflict and the country’s weak education system, an NGO says.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said Monday that some 850,000 children have been displaced and 900 schools have been destroyed as a result of intensified violence in Congo’s central Kasai region over the past year.
The group said the population is part of some 7.4 million children who are out of school in Congo as the conflict keeps taking toll on the country’s already weakened education system.
Some 92 percent of children in the six-to-11-year-old age group are out of school in the violence-hit towns of Kalemie and Tanganyika, the group said.
The group also warned that the vast Central African country risks losing its next generation as only 4 percent of humanitarian funds for education have been received this year.
“When children are displaced they are forced to suspend their education, or drop it altogether. This disruption to their development hinders their personal progress, and has detrimental effects to the socio-economics of the entire country,” said Celestin Kamori, the council’s Congo education program coordinator.
The campaigning group called on international donors to prioritize education emergencies.
“Donors should recognize that education is also a protection tool. Children enrolled in emergency education classes, catch-up classes and child-friendly spaces are less likely to join armed groups,” said Kamori, adding, “We need more funding to scale up emergency education support so that we don’t lose a generation.”
The Norwegian Refugee Council said many schools that are spared of the effects of fighting in Congo are used to shelter displaced families, further complicating efforts to restore the education system.
It added that school-aged children account for more than 17 percent of some 3.8 million people who have been displaced in Congo over the past two decades.
By Audrey Anelka