Read an account from Emilia Sorrentino, (pictured) Plan Ireland’s Education in Emergencies Specialist about how Plan Ireland is helping children continue with their education in the Central African Republic (CAR) in most difficult circumstances. Emilia travelled to the CAR earlier this year.
When conflicts erupt, children become particularly vulnerable. Schools close and teachers leave their posts, meaning that education can’t continue. Without the continuation of their formal education, children’s life opportunities will be severely diminished, permanently.
In 2013, CAR descended into violent conflict. Human rights violations, looting and summary executions led to thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries or becoming displaced within CAR itself. To date, the country has approximately 410, 000 IDPs (internally displaced persons) and 425,623 refugees in neighbouring countries.
During the fighting, many schools and early childhood education facilities have been attacked. These attacks have comprised looting and occupation by armed groups. Others schools have been occupied by IDPs.
Huge numbers of children have dropped out due to of fear of violence, lack of school supplies and shortage of teachers, or because they have to stay at home to maintain the household as their parents’ livelihoods have been destroyed.
In the capital city of Bangui, to help ensure that children have access to education even in the most difficult circumstances, Plan Ireland has helped restore access to early childhood education for 657 young children by providing education supplies and training for teachers in 15 kindergartens.
It has also worked with UNICEF to develop and finalise a proper curriculum for early childhood education that will be rolled out across the country, making sure that children and teachers can avail of accessible, effective quality education programmes.
Child Friendly Spaces
Beyond the capital, in the south western province of Mambere Kadei, Plan has helped establish five community child protection networks and three “child friendly spaces.” These initiatives monitor and report violations against children’s right, as well as providing safe and protective environments for hundreds of vulnerable children to learn and play in surroundings where security is still very volatile .
Plan has trained child friendly spaces’ staff and volunteers to offer age appropriate, recreational and psychosocial support activities which will help children, and in particular those who are more vulnerable, to continue learning and to cope with the effects of the conflict on their lives.
“You only get one chance at a childhood, and we must preserver so that children can try to have a “normal” one despite the circumstances.”