More than 20,000 children in Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui, will start classes in temporary learning spaces after violence forced them to flee their homes and closed down their schools.
While all schools in the capital have been closed since early December 2013, UNICEF and partners are setting up more than 100 temporary learning spaces at displacement sites in Bangui. Over 40 are already functioning and 160 teachers have received early childhood development training from UNICEF to give classes to children from 3 – 5 years of age.
In Bossangoa and surrounding areas in the north-west of the country, UNICEF will set up more temporary learning spaces in communities where families are returning and finding schools that are damaged.
“If the displaced children cannot go back to schools, classrooms should come to them”, says UNICEF Deputy Representative in Central African Republic Judith Léveillée. “This is the idea behind the temporary learning spaces. As soon as security allows it, the safe and permanent return of all teachers and students to schools is a crucial step on the road to peace and reconciliation”, she adds.
Temporary classrooms are a short-term solution and UNICEF will support the Ministry of Education in re-opening formal schools as soon as the security situation permits.
UNICEF is providing more than 500 kits for education and recreation at 20 displacement sites in Bangui. These kits include teaching materials, books and stationary, sports equipment and art supplies.
“Children have lost several months of schooling since the crisis started,” Ms Léveillée says. “It’s urgent for them to get access to a place where they can earn safely. Returning to class gives children a sense of a return to normalcy, stability, and hope for the future.”
In addition to the temporary learning spaces, UNICEF supports child-friendly spaces, which provide displaced children with psychosocial support and recreational activities.
“I want the children in my class to forget the bad things they have seen. I want to make sure that they don’t turn to violence and retribution, but learn honesty and gentleness,” says Antoinette, one of the teachers at the UNICEF training. “A country without education has no future”, she adds.
The basic right to education is most at risk during times of crisis, but schools not only provide children with a safe place to learn, they are also an important part of the recovery process, says UNICEF.
Nearly half of Bangui’s residents who fled the violent clashes remain living in makeshift displacement camps. Over the past year, 65 percent of 176 inspected schools across the country have been looted, according to UNICEF.
UNICEF is working with 11 NGO implementing partners in establishing the temporary learning spaces.
UNICEF’s appeal for emergency operations in Central African Republic this year is for $62 million. The current funding shortfall is $59 million.
Notes for editors:
UNICEF has worked in the Central African Republic since 1968. UNICEF has teams in Bangui, Bossangoa, and Kaga Bandoro, and leads a Rapid Response Mechanism with ECHO, ACTED and ACF (Action Against Hunger) that delivers emergency supplies to areas where there is virtually no humanitarian presence. UNICEF is the country’s major supplier of vaccines, therapeutic foods to treat child malnutrition, and water supplies. UNICEF leads the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Nutrition; Education clusters, and the Child Protection sub-cluster. The UNICEF CAR team includes over 100 staff, supported by around 40 emergency support personnel. UNICEF CAR’s appeal for emergency operations in 2014 is for £38 million.
For further information please contact: Claire Blackburn, UNICEF UK Press Office – 020 7375 6261 - email@example.com
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit unicef.org.uk