|Innovative Education Approaches in Emergency Settings: DR Congo|
Life in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been disrupted time and time again by violent conflict, resulting in frequent displacement and high levels of insecurity. The UNHCR launched a new alarm warning about attacks in the region as recently as April.
In the meantime, AVSI, a main partner of UNICEF in the education sector in North and South Kivu, has led the “Back to School” campaign, consisting of distribution of school materials for young people in the most remote areas of these districts. During the last academic year, 39,441 children received school materials and 1,107 teachers were involved with related activities at 621 schools.
AVSI has collaborated with UNICEF in DRC since 2002. In recent years, the partnership has been reinforced with the approval of large, multi-sector interventions; “The interventions seek to respond to the educational and protection needs of the children, parents and teachers who have been caught up in the catastrophic consequences of a chronic conflict that has affected the eastern province of DRC for many years,” affirmed Barbara Bergamini, head of the UNICEF project for AVSI in Goma.
Thanks to the Mobile Teacher Training activities, AVSI has been able to extend activities to the most remote and inaccessible regions, thereby reaching some of the most vulnerable children and their families with education and psychosocial support. In this way, AVSI supported 11,300 children, trained 290 teachers and formed or strengthened 25 parent committees in 2009. Parental involvement in the schools has been a factor essential to the success and long-term impact of these activities. In recognition of the great accomplishments of AVSI, UNICEF has highlighted AVSI’s methods as one of the best practices for education in emergencies for 2010.
Also in collaboration with UNICEF in the sector of child protection, AVSI is also implementing Child Friendly Spaces. Through this project, AVSI constructs protected environments within which children can enjoy recreational and educational activities and psychosocial support and counseling. Children who have been victims of conflict can rediscover their dignity, be helped to overcome the trauma experienced, and be allowed to express themselves through play and communication. In addition to facilitating family integration, these Child Friendly Spaces also protect children from other risks related to the conflict such as forced abduction and other forms of abuse. AVSI manages 19 Child Friendly Spaces which have received 17,829 children.