Education Cannot Wait approves $22.2m for multi-year resilience programme in DRC
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced $22.2 million in catalytic investment grants to accelerate education in emergency response in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The initial programme will run for three years, with the goal of leveraging an additional $45.3 million in co-financing from national and global partners, the private sector and philanthropic foundations to reach over 200,000 children and youth.
“Education is a top priority for the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, contributing to sustainable development and peace in the country,” said Jean-Marie Mangobe Bomungo, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education. “Refugee, internally displaced and host community children must be able to benefit from education like all children. Thanks to Education Cannot Wait funding, this new multi-year resilience programme will help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind, especially as we work to guarantee inclusive, quality education for every girl and boy in the country.”
“Millions of children and youth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are being left behind. Facing the compounding risks of violence, conflict, food insecurity, natural disasters – as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple health crises over the years including cholera and ebola – girls and boys are at high risk of dropping out of school permanently, being forcefully recruited into armed and militant groups, or being pushed out of school to join the workforce. For girls, the situation is even worse. They risk all forms of gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation, forced child marriage and early pregnancy and various forms of abuse,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Working together with the speed of humanitarians and the quality of development in crisis contexts, this new joint programme helps bridge the humanitarian-development-peace nexus and aims to address the current needs, while also building long-term solutions to keep Democratic Republic of the Congo’s most crisis-affected children and youth in school with a real opportunity for learning. Their education cannot wait. Now is the time for hope.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a severe impact on education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Following the closure of schools as a preventive measure, around 27 million students have had their schooling interrupted. This is in addition to an estimated 15 to 23 million school-aged children and adolescents who were out of school before the COVID-19 crisis. The government is stepping up its response, with recent initiatives to support free primary education allowing more children the opportunity to attend school, but this has also caused overcrowded classrooms and is depleting resources.
Attacks on schools and recruitment into armed groups are on the rise. Recruitment into armed groups doubled from the previous year in 2017, with over 1,000 verified cases. Schools are being destroyed during armed conflicts and are being occupied by armed groups or displaced persons. In crisis-affected Tanganyika, Ituri and Kasai Central provinces, one out of every four children and youth are out of school. Across the country, teachers are hard to retain and receive low pay, and only 5 per cent of children have access to pre-school education, with girls receiving more access than boys.
This new, multi-year education programme – implemented by UNICEF in coordination with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, national and international partners, and a broad coalition of partners on the ground – the programme will improve equitable access to inclusive learning environments in the provinces of Tanganyika, Ituri and Kasaï Central.
Fully funded, the programme will reach over 200,000 internally displaced, returnee and deported refugee girls and boys – as well as host community children and youth. Out of this total, Education Cannot Wait seed funding will focus on Tanganyika province to reach 68,000 children and adolescents aged 5–17 years, 52 per cent of whom are girls. These include children from internally displaced, returnee and refugee populations and children with disabilities (15 per cent of the total). Teachers and school communities, indigenous people, former child soldiers, victims of gender-based violence, unaccompanied children, children from host communities, and other vulnerable children and adolescents are also targeted through the intervention.