IOM Supports Reopening of Schools in Bangui, Central African Republic
GENEVA, Switzerland, October 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following the outbreak of large-scale violence in early 2013, most schools throughout the Central African Republic (CAR) were closed. They have remained closed now for well over a year, but the Ministry of Education and the UNICEF-led education cluster plan to gradually reopen them across the country starting next month.
IOM is actively supporting the return to school project through activities funded by the European Union (EU) as part of the project entitled: “Community stabilization and early recovery for at-risk communities in Bangui”. This project supports activities including cash-for-work schemes targeting the most vulnerable people across the capital.
IOM this week established work teams in the 1st and 2nd districts to clean classrooms and school yards of debris and overgrowth. The teams are also doing small-scale repairs, including fixing front gates, doors, roofs and guttering as needed and in coordination with the education-cluster actors.
The work teams consist of 50 people for each school, recruited in close coordination with local authorities. They include vulnerable people from each district with a special focus on people who either graduated or left the schools being reopened. Team members will work in 10-day rotations earning roughly USD 50 per rotation.
While the work will start in the 1st and 2nd districts, it will gradually expand to all schools identified by the Ministry of Education as suitable and safe for reopening.
“I used to come to this school until it was closed in February 2012. Now I am glad to see that classes are scheduled to restart,” said Beatrice, 27, a mother of three, who is helping to prepare the Ecole Centre Fille in Bangui's 1st district for the return of students.
Since its inception in March 2014, IOM's EU-funded community stabilization project has supported over 6,200 beneficiaries through its cash-for-work project activities. Cash-for-work rotations support community-based infrastructure rehabilitation projects identified by communities and local or national administration. To date, cash-for-work teams have facilitated the cleaning and closure of several displacement sites, hospitals, markets, canals and more than 14km of rain gutters in the 3rd and 5th districts.
The initiative to reopen the schools follows three weeks of increased tension in Bangui, which has displaced some 4,000 people. Due to the volatile situation, schools will only be reopened based on individual evaluations of each school and the local security situation. All of IOM's activities are being closely coordinated with the local authorities, the security sector and the UNICEF-led education cluster.