Happy Tuesday, and welcome back to the blog! Don’t forget to check out Jesse Gold and Birds of Bellwoods tonight at the Brooklyn. Tickets are $10 with all proceeds going towards enrolling students in school in the DRC. Doors open at 8:30, and we hope to meet you all there!
In the meantime, today’s blog post is – not coincidentally – about the state of education in the DRC. It is important for you all to have some background information in order to understand why we do what we do.
The educational system in the DRC is similar to that of Belgium, its colonizer, in that there are six years of primary school followed by six years of secondary education. The education system has suffered from decades of conflict although recent years have shown a tad bit of improvement (yes, Nyantende has helped with this!)
In 2000, 65 percent of children ages 10 to 14 were attending school. As a result of the 6-year civil war, over 7.3 million children in the country now receive no education.
In 2012, a study conducted by UNESCO and UNICEF revealed that 52.7 per cent of the 7.3 million children out of school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – some 3.8 million children – are girls. Among the obstacles to girls’ education are low family incomes and lack of school infrastructure, in some areas.
With a GDP per capita of less than $400 in the DRC, many government programs such as basic education have been left underfunded and underdeveloped. In 2010 only 2.5% of GDP was spent on education. This left the DRC ranking 159th out of 173 in the world in terms of education.
The largest issue with the educational problem in the DRC is that the children and families are afraid to go to school. The rebel armies of the DRC such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and the National Congress for the Defense of the People are infamous for their use of child soldiers. Schools are one of the main ways these children are abducted and enslaved by these groups.
Last year, 14 year-old Melissa Kasoke used her voice to advocate for children, especially girls, to get back into school in North Kivu. She was recognized by UNICEF, and provides the sort of grassroots advocacy that we hope to give. The Nyantende Foundation’s primary mandate is to continue to enroll students in school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We know that with your help, we are able to envision a process of change for children there. In the meantime, we leave you with Melissa’s voice.
Heather and Maggie