Central African Republic (CAR)
In the CAR, an Accelerated Learning Programme provides a pathway to formal schooling for 10-year-old displaced Océane
Océane, 10, never got the chance to start school. She was only thee when violence broke out in her country, the Central African Republic, displacing more than 1 million people. Since 2014, she has lived in a displacement camp outside the UN’s peacekeeping headquarters in the central-northern city of Kaga-Bandoro. Océane, her parents, and six siblings live alongside 12,400 people in the camp, too afraid to return to their homes. Though Océane’s family tried their best to rebuild their lives, they couldn’t afford to pay the money for her to start school.
“My father could never afford to pay for my schooling, so I spent all my time at home, helping my mother with chores,” says Océane. She gave up her dreams of being able to read and write and instead spent her days helping her mother sell doughnuts, cook, and clean. Then in 2019 the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an ECW grantee, launched an Accelerated Learning Programme in Kaga-Bandoro. The nine-month programme offered 420 children affected by conflict the opportunity to attend school. Océane and her classmates were able to catch up on all the learning they had missed. They learned the basics of reading and writing and took an evaluative exam at the end of the programme. When students passed this exam, they were able to enrol in the local primary school.
Océane was delighted to have had the opportunity to join the programme. “I am really happy with my classes. I do not have to sell any more doughnuts. Now, I can read and write the alphabet. My favourite classes are French and math,” she says.
Every day, Océane gets up at 6 a.m. and walks 30 minutes to get to her classes. In the afternoon, she does her homework and reads. Like most families in their situation, Océane’s family was not able to afford the books, pencils, and other tools she needed for her classes. As part of the Accelerated Learning Programme, Océane and her fellow students received school kits containing notebooks, pencils, slates, and school bags. “I like going to school,” she says. “And I am grateful to have received this school kit, because now I have everything I need to learn new things every day.”
Océane is full of hope and dreams that one day she will become a nurse. “I want to study to the highest level and earn a degree in medicine. Then I could take care of the children in Kaga-Bandoro.” Océane’s hard work is now paying off. After completing the programme, she passed the exam and is undertaking formal schooling at the local primary school. “Every child should have the possibility to go to school and forget the war they have lived through,” she concludes.
Original story source: NRC in CAR