COUNTERING SCHOOL CLOSURES WITH RADIO EDUCATION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Children in Madomale listen to the JRS radio programme. Christian Marago, accompanies them. All Photos JRS CAR.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, Jesuit Refugee Service is expanding remote learning opportunities for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Jesuit Refugee Service (Original Story)

While all the educational facilities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have closed their doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students and teachers have found a new source for learning: the airwaves.

To keep children from falling further behind in the pandemic, the Jesuit Refugee Service is producing a weekday radio education program known as L’École à la Radio (The School on the Radio). Children have been tuning into the broadcast since June every day from 4:30 to 5pm to hear radio lessons broadcast by the Lego ti la Ouaka community radio in Bambari, where JRS is supporting internally displaced persons and local communities with funding from the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The project is reaching preschool and primary students who have not been able to go back to class since March 2020. Before the pandemic, access to quality education was already a challenge for many children affected by conflict, recruitment by armed groups or forced displacement in CAR. Unable to access the safety, hope and protection of a quality learning environment, their education and future are at risk.

To address the unique social and emotional challenges these children face, L’École à la Radio offers important learning and psychosocial supports for children who have been displaced by war and violence. Over 2980 people (children and parents) now listen to the radio broadcast, which is heard within a radius of at least 50 km around Bambari.

Radio lessons are recorded with the participation of 10 children (5 girls and 5 boys) in the classroom, respecting the adequate prevention measures against COVID-19. This hybrid approach empowers children and presents an innovative way to extend in-class lessons to students staying home.

Listening in on the radio lessons. Photo JRS CAR.

“Since I discovered L’École à la Radio, I always lend my radio to my children and other kids in the village from 4:30 to 5 pm, so that they can learn with the radio classes,” says Christian Marago.

Christian is a father of a four and an eight year old, and lives in Madomale village, located 37 km away from Bambari.

L’École à la Radio addresses them directly, especially since children of their ages are the ones talking and doing the show,” he adds.

After contacting Lego ti la Ouaka radio and expressing his enthusiasm for the program, Christian was invited to become one of the sixteen JRS Radio Listening Focal Points who operate within the communities. They accompany the children during the radio emission and help JRS monitoring the development and impact of the program.

For Christian, the program really helps the students to continue learning, at the same time helping parents with the knowledge and tools they need to supervise their children’s learning progress.

“The language [used in the program] is suitable for children and the subjects are adapted to the context of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Christian. “At the same time, they learn about family, good manners, nature and animals… Also, about the existence of the coronavirus and how to protect themselves and the whole community.”

“From my side, I think that L’École à la Radio is one of the best programs broadcast by Lego ti la Ouaka radio in these times,” Christian says.

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Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INVESTMENTS REACH REFUGEE AND OTHER VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC

With US$24.5 million in currently committed funds – and more on its way – ECW-financed COVID-19 education in emergency responses are now deployed across 27 countries and emergency contexts. For children and youth in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Uganda, these life-saving responses are allowing girls and boys to continue their education through distance learning, protecting lives with enhanced water and sanitation services, and slowing the spread of the virus through community awareness campaigns.

Priscille with her family. Photo © Save the Children

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN UGANDA WITH SAVE THE CHILDREN

With support from Education Cannot Wait, Save the Children Uganda is distributing home learning kits and extending educational opportunities through innovative radio programmes to provide refugee girls and boys – and host community children and youth – ongoing remote learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools are still closed in Uganda – possibly for the remainder of the year. For these vulnerable refugee children and youth, life-saving education and health awareness materials are essential in keeping children safe, extending learning and slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Still, half of the primary school refugee children in Uganda have yet to receive home learning materials, highlighting the need to expand the global education in emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Imagine… I am in P7 (the seventh and final grade of primary school). As a girl, I am very proud to have reached this class. This virus should stop so that I can sit the Primary Leaving Examination since many girls cannot make it. This makes me happy and keen to complete my studies!” – Priscille, 15, refugee girl Rwamwanja refugee settlement in Western Uganda. Full Story

Grace is finding new hope through the ECW-financed response. Photo © UNICEF

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN BURKINA FASO WITH UNICEF

In Burkina Faso, ECW funding is keeping girls and boys safe within the fast-evolving ‘crisis within a crisis’ affecting refugees, especially girls in the Sahel. For girls like Grace, the support provided by ECW partner UNICEF, in coordination with the Government of Burkina Faso, is making a difference. This includes the training and deployment of 15,000 volunteers who provide COVID-19 hygiene and prevention sensitization amongst refugee populations and host communities.

“At school we have to wear the mask, stay at least 1 meter apart, wash hands with water and soap and raise awareness of friends who don’t know how to fight this pandemic.” – Grace, Peniel High School in Tanghin.

Learn more in this BBC French report.

Photo © UNHCR

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN MALI WITH UNHCR

“UNHCR Mali has now received money from Education Cannot Wait for distance learning, targeting 10,000 refugee and displaced children in Mali. With the money we aim to provide solar radios to refugee children, children who are internally displaced, and those from the host communities. These radios will ensure these refugee, displaced and host community children’s right to education, even in low-tech resource areas of Mali. The Ministry of Education together with teachers are now recording lessons for all levels so that they are ready to be aired on the radios.”- Leandro Salazar, Education Expert, UNHCR Mali.

Preventing the spread of the virus through education in Chad. Photo © JRS.

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN CHAD AND THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC WITH JRS

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown and confinement measures have brought new challenges for educational facilities in both Chad and the Central African Republic. In addition to being central to learning, schools are crucial for raising community awareness to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With the support of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) adapted its activities in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in Eastern Chad to ensure continued education, health and hygiene awareness raising and protection for refugee children and youth – already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises – and now doubly hit by COVID-19.

In Chad, ECW partner JRS is supporting improved water and sanitation services and training education professionals on COVID-19 prevention measures to help them raise awareness within the communities. In Central African Republic, radio programmes are providing psychosocial support and ongoing lessons, with a special focus on refugee girls’ rights to access quality education.

¨We started some initiatives to be in contact with the students. This includes awareness raising activities with their parents and students on COVID-19 prevention measures through WhatsApp groups and home visits.¨ Tadjadine Abdallah Mansour, a secondary teacher at Kounoungou Refugee Camp, Chad.

“For the moment, and until the end of the pandemic, we will continue teaching our students within their areas through home-based learning.¨

THE GOVERNMENT OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, AND A WIDE COALITION OF DONORS AND PARTNERS LAUNCH US$77.6 MILLION EDUCATION PROGRAMME FOR 900,000 CHILDREN

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THE GOVERNMENT OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, AND A WIDE COALITION OF DONORS AND PARTNERS LAUNCH US$77.6 MILLION EDUCATION PROGRAMME FOR 900,000 CHILDREN

WITH A CATALYTIC US$6.5 MILLION IN SEED FUNDING FROM EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, THE PROGRAMME WILL BE A ‘FOUNDATION OF PEACE, SECURITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT’

27 February 2019, Bangui – The Government of the Central African Republic and Education Cannot Wait launched a three-year education programme today that will reach an estimated 900,000 children – half of whom are girls – and address the violence and displacement that have left nearly half a million children out of school in the country.

“Education will build the foundation of peace, security and economic development for the people of the Central African Republic,” said Mr. Aboubakar Moukadas-Noure, Central African Republic Minister of Education. “By providing girls and boys with safe learning spaces, qualified teachers, learning materials, school meals, counseling support and other services, this bold and comprehensive programme signals a new age of progress in the Central African Republic. Our children deserve an education. If we are ever to end hunger, violence, displacement and poverty in our country, truly, their education cannot wait.”

The programme benefits from an initial investment of US$6.5 million for 2019-2020 from Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund for education in crisis. The fund is looking to catalyze US$1.8 billion by 2021 to address the needs of children in crisis-affected countries such as the Central African Republic.

Building on the successes of a 12-month US$6 million First Emergency Response financed by Education Cannot Wait, the programme seeks to mobilize US$77.6 million over the next three years. Education Cannot Wait has indicatively committed an additional US$6.5 million per year for the second and third years of the programme, dependent on successful results and availability of funds.

“The global community must step up to fund educational responses in the Central African Republic,” said Graham Lang, Senior Education Advisor at Education Cannot Wait. “The challenges to overcome for children in the country to have universal access to quality education may be immense. But the resilience of these children is even greater. Education is the key that can empower them to tap into this strength to realize their potential and become agents of positive change. Without education, there can be no sustainable recovery, reconciliation and peace.”

The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the world’s most unstable countries. Widespread violence has had a heavy toll on the population, with one out of four Central African uprooted by the conflict and over two-third of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. Girls and boys are particularly affected, with reports of separated children, sexual violence, forced marriage and early pregnancies, and forced recruitment into armed groups. Since 2017, 89 attacks against schools have been reported while 20 per cent of schools remain closed.

“The programme will target displaced children and host communities with comprehensive efforts to increase access to education, improve retention and ensure education continuity, improve the quality of learning and teaching, and establish safe, protective and inclusive learning environments” Lang said.

 

As part of Education Cannot Wait’s efforts to strengthen links between humanitarian and development aid efforts, the programme connects actors from across the government, UN organizations, national and international NGOs and the private sector.

Key Facts & Figures on the Multi-Year Resilience Programme

  • With transitional classes, the rehabilitation and construction of over 1000 classrooms, and the distribution of 320,000 school kits, the ECW investment in the overall multi-year programme seeks to get over 360,000 out of school children back in protective and safe learning environments, with the goal of reintegrating 90 per cent of the country’s out of school children into the formal education system.

 

  • To reach children in remote locations, an innovative radio education programme is expected to reach around 300,000 girls and boys. It also looks to test cash transfer programmes and will connect with the World Food Programme to implement school feeding programmes in 35 schools.

 

  • Without pay, most teachers have left their posts in CAR, and the educational system primarily relies on untrained community teachers, which comprise over half the teaching force. The programme will provide training and incentives to 12,000 teachers – 35 per cent of whom are female – with the goal of providing better education, keeping children in school and equipping teaching personnel to help children deal with the scars of war, violence and displacement.

 

  • Only one in four girls in CAR are considered literate. The programme seeks to increase the participation of girls in formal and non-formal education by 5 per cent per year. Girls-only sanitary facilities and comprehensive campaigns on sexual education and girl’s rights are part of the programme’s overall efforts to get more girls back in school. The programme will also support 90,000 girls and boys in obtaining official documentation.

 

[PDF] CAR-MYRP-Launch-Press-Release-ENG

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For press enquiries, contact:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org , +1 917 640-6820

For any other enquiries, contact:
info@educationcannotwait.org

 

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