Fourteen-year-old Fadila* is a refugee from the Central African Republic. She fled her country to escape violence. Due to the violence that was tearing her country apart, her school was shut down and then she had to leave with her family, eventually arriving in Cameroon a few months ago.
Currently living in a community transit tent with her father, her aunt and her younger brother, Issa, Fadila misses going to school.
“I feel safe and happy being here but I miss school’’, she says. “I would have loved to have brought some of my books along but I couldn’t go back to my house to get them.’’
“I have no friends here. I would like to have some books so I can read and catch up on what I am missing at school,” she adds.
Fadila’s father Oumarou, is proud that his daughter went to school in their village, and longs for the time when she can continue her education.
Unusually for his community, Oumarou hasn’t let his daughter be married off yet, despite local traditions.
“I want Fadila to get an education so she can have a better life,” he says.
“There used to be messages about the importance of girl child education on the radio while at home”, he says.
“I was convinced by them. I vowed that my daughter will study until she is at least 18 years old before she marries.”
Oumarou’s big worry at the moment is that his daughter will stop school and his efforts to educate her would be in vain.
The vast majority of refugee girls have never been to school. They usually stay at home and are married off as Child Brides by their parents as early as 12 years of age.
“Women and children have suffered disproportionately as a result of the humanitarian crises in CAR, and other countries in the region,” says Henri-Noel Tatangang, Plan International’s regional emergency specialist for West Africa.
“Children like Fadila must be able to continue their education. We’re working flat out to ensure that children in refugee sites have access to education.”
“We’re planning to construct 87 Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) in refugee camps and provide training for teachers,” says Tatangang.
(*Name has been changed)