Most Schools Remain Closed in Central African Republic More than Six Months into School Year

May 9, 2014

NEW YORK (May 9, 2014) – More than half-way through the 12-month school year, nearly two-thirds of schools in the Central African Republic remain closed, a recent survey by UNICEF and partners reveals.

“The education system is literally on its knees,” said Souleymane Diabaté, UNICEF Representative in Central African Republic. “Many teachers have not been paid for months; there are no textbooks; the little infrastructure that existed before the crisis has been damaged.”

Since late 2012, the crisis in Central African Republic has disrupted two school years, and many families are still too scared to send their children back to class.

The survey’s findings paint a grim picture:

  • On average, schools have only been open for four weeks since October due to the destruction of classrooms, the slow return of teachers, and delayed payment of teachers’ salaries.
  • A third of 355 surveyed schools have been attacked in recent months—struck by bullets, set on fire, looted or occupied by armed groups.
  • Enrollment figures dropped drastically: One in three children who were enrolled in the last school year did not go back to school this year.

“Families, homes, stability—so much has been taken from children during this crisis,” said Diabaté. “They cannot be robbed of education, their best hope for a better and more peaceful future.”

UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education’s efforts to provide school supplies, restore looted schools and offer teacher training.

In areas where insecurity has hindered the resumption of educational activities, including the capital Bangui, UNICEF and partner organizations set up nearly 120 temporary learning spaces where up to 23,000 children and adolescents have the opportunity to learn, play and receive psychological support.

However, UNICEF’s education programs remain grossly underfunded. Only $3 million has been received so far out of a total $10 million needed to help children resume their learning.

"It’s important for us that children go to school because if they stay like this too long, they will forget what they have learned," says Nguinissara Rita, a primary school teacher in a site for internally displaced people in Bangui.

The data are based on a telephone survey of 355 schools in 16 of the prefectures in Central African Republic. The survey was carried out in February 2014 by the Education Cluster led by UNICEF and with participation from the Ministry of Education, the World Food Program and the non-governmental organizations COOPI, Cordaid, Danish Refugee Council and JUPEDEC.

Photos and b-roll of the situation of children in the Central African Republic are available via the UNICEF photo archive


About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.

For additional information, please contact:

Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org

 

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