from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – EDUCATION has shuddered to a halt in the eastern North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as armed groups have occupied schools or attacked the education facilities.
Some schools are used as temporary shelter for internally displaced people.
Save the Children painted a grim picture of the situation.
More than 150 schools in North Kivu have been attacked by armed groups in escalating violence since the beginning of January, affecting the education of over 62 000 children.
Eighteen schools are currently occupied by armed groups and 113 schools are being used as temporary shelter for internally displaced people, according to data from the DRC’s education cluster, which is led by the Ministry of Education, Save the Children and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Save the Children quoted school principals and teachers lamenting how rebel groups took away classroom doors and windows.
“These armed men are attacking the future of the children,” a principal lamented.
A teacher at a Save the Children partner school said armed groups occupying the school had used wooden school materials and benches as firewood.
“Our school has been a battlefield,” the teacher said.
Armed groups have attacked four of the Save the Children’s partner schools.
“This year the North Kivu has seen a startling increase in violent attacks on communities, including schools, and as a result, children’s right to education is under threat,” said Amavi Akpamagbo, Save the Children Country Director in DRC.
A country of 97 million people, DRC is one of the world’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises, with 14,2 million in dire need of assistance.
– CAJ News