UNICEF Opens Classrooms for Children in CAR

February 10, 2014

By

Elizabeth M. Kiem

The situation for children in the Central African Republic is alarming. They have been displaced by violence, separated from their families, even made targets of atrocities as the impoverished country descends into conflict and chaos.

Children’s education has been disrupted, too. Over the past year, an inspection of 176 schools found that 65 percent had been looted.

UNICEF has been providing basic supplies and services for survival since the conflict reached crisis levels last summer. Now it is also ensuring children’s right to education, opening classrooms for children whose families have fled their homes and schools.

“Children have lost several months of schooling since the crisis started,” said Judith Léveillée, UNICEF Deputy Representative in the Central African Republic. “It’s urgent for them to get access to a place where they can learn safely."

The temporary learning spaces will accommodate more than 20,000 children living in camps for the displaced in Bangui as well as children in the northwest of the country where schools have been damaged.

More than 40 of the planned 100 classrooms are already functioning, and UNICEF has trained 160 teachers to hold classes for young children ages three to five. UNICEF is also providing education and recreation materials for use in the child-friendly spaces.

In emergency situations, like that in CAR, UNICEF and partners promote quality education through the child-friendly model. This means that classrooms are safe and clean, that teachers are trained and have enough resources and that children’s rights are protected. These child-friendly learning spaces provide a much-needed refuge for children affected by conflict, natural disasters or other emergencies.

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