Category: Africa

Children Education in Sierra Leone

Children Education in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located in West Africa and is one of the world’s poorest and least equal countries. There are great natural resources, but a long civil war and an outbreak of Ebola have damaged the economy and had serious consequences for the children in the country. Girls are extra vulnerable and do not have access to their rights.

The civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002 led to the deaths of 50,000 people and a third of the population was forced to flee. It had a major impact on the economy and the country’s development. The country had slowly begun to recover from the war when it was hit by an outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014. The disease had catastrophic consequences for those affected. 10,000 children lost one or both their parents, the country suffered from food shortages and unemployment and violence increased. All schools in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea closed during the summer and millions of children were left without education.

When all schools in Sierra Leone reopened the following year, not all children could return. More than half of Sierra Leone’s population lives below the poverty line and many parents could not afford to let their children go to school. Poverty also leads to many children under the age of five being malnourished. Sierra Leone is one of the countries in the world where most children under the age of five die.

Sierra Leone is now free of Ebola, but children have been greatly affected by the progression of the disease. One study shows that child labor increased because children had to help support their families. With so many deaths, even girls could be forced to take over responsibility for their younger siblings when their parents died. According to the UN, two out of five children work in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone

Two out of five girls in child marriage

Sierra Leone is one of the least equal countries in the world. It has a big impact on girls’ lives. The country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and almost two out of five girls are forced to marry before the age of 18. The level of education is low for both girls and boys, but lowest for girls who on average go to school for almost three years. Even children from low-income families or with disabilities lose the right to go to school. The lack of education is one of the reasons why so many girls are married off.

This is what Plan International does

Plan International works to strengthen children’s and young people’s right to development, protection and participation. We work to support local savings and loan groups and contribute to increased profits in agriculture to improve the livelihoods of the families affected by Ebola.

Some of our general areas of focus are support for children and young people so that they can address the causes of discrimination against girls and women, work to improve the conditions of children – in practice and politics, preparatory and urgent work to deal with crises and support for children so that they can grow up in security with access to their rights.

Now the schools get more books

In Sierra Leone there are many who cannot read and not even in school are there certain books. Plan International works to give more people the opportunity to discover the world of books.

For many children in Sierra Leone, books are a rarity. Few families have the opportunity to have books at home and for those who can afford it, there are few bookstores with a small selection. Many children also do not have access to books at school. Together with Book Aid International, Plan International distributes 10,000 books to over 100 schools around Sierra Leone. Through the project, Plan International wants to increase the proportion of literates that is now around 45 percent.

– Without books, children will not pass exams, that is the biggest problem. There is no reading culture at all, says Mariam Murrey who is an advisor for the program.

The hope is that the books will give students the desire to read and support them in their learning. Schools receive everything from academic books to fiction for children and picture books for the little ones. All books are in English, which is the official language of the country and is used in teaching.

13-year-old Mariama is one of the students who received books.

– Thank you so much for giving my school books and for giving us the opportunity to read and learn, she says.

The schools that have received books have also been encouraged to create small corners where students can practice reading. The books should be there so that the children can easily find them and settle down.

Equality

A role model for young women

Dad said it was a waste of money to educate girls, that girls should get married and move out. I refused to listen to Dad and showed that the structures of society were wrong. Now they can all see that women can also become teachers. Now I am a role model.

Mamie

Plan International has made it possible for people in several communities in the Moyamba district to be able to report genital mutilation or kidnapping of children; two serious violations of children’s rights that also lead to girls being forced to drop out of school. When Plan International celebrated the UN’s anniversary last year, many children participated in the work of producing a letter to the local authorities demanding more money to protect children.

Security and protection

To survive for play and laughter

Now they look at me as a hero because I survived Ebola. In the future, I want to help people when they get sick, especially children.

Michael, 14 years

Michael’s family died of Ebola. He himself became infected but survived and moved in with his aunt. When the epidemic was over and school started again, he asked his aunt not to go there because his classmates were afraid of him and did not want to talk to him. But his aunt refused to let him stop. At the same time, Plan International worked to change students’ attitudes and reduce discrimination against Ebola survivors. Today he plays and laughs with his friends and he is happy to have them back.

Facts about Sierra Leone

Facts about Sierra Leone

Capital: Freetown
Population: 7.6 million
Life expectancy: 52 years
Infant mortality rate: 110.5 per 1000 births
Proportion of children starting school: 98.3%
Literacy: 32.4%
Proportion of women in parliament: 12%

Children Education in Central African Republic

Children Education in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is located in the middle of Africa. The country is rich in natural resources but violence, political unrest and corruption hinder development. Armed conflicts have also forced people to leave their homes. Children, and especially girls, are hard hit by the situation.

In 1960, the Central African Republic became independent and since then the country has had several shifts of power and periods of unrest. The country has enormous natural resources, but despite this, a large part of the population lives in poverty. Instead, the assets in many cases contribute to conflicts because rebel groups exploit the lack of law and order to make money on, among other things, gold and diamonds.

The recurring outbreaks of violence have affected both the school system, the judiciary, health care and the labor market negatively and it looks particularly bad outside the capital. Many people have been forced to leave their homes and four out of five Central Africans are considered poor. Children are hard hit by conflicts and disasters and in a country with a very young population – three out of five are under 25 – it has serious consequences.

Facts about the Central African Republic

Girls particularly vulnerable in conflicts

The Central African Republic is one of the countries with the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world. One in ten children does not survive their fifth birthday and among pregnant women almost one percent die during childbirth – for reasons that could have been avoided. Another problem is the high number of teenage pregnancies. Just over a fifth of all teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant and give birth to children, even though they themselves are still children .

Girls’ vulnerability is generally higher with ongoing conflicts in the country. In conflicts and disasters, the risk increases that girls will be forced into child marriage, become pregnant while they themselves are still children and be forced to leave school to take care of the household and family. The fact that girls have to drop out of school is one of the biggest obstacles for them to be able to support themselves in the future and have the opportunity.

This makes international plan in the Central African Republic

Plan International has been in place in the Central African Republic since 2014. Our programs in the country focus on children’s right to education, food, protection from violence and young people’s opportunity to participate in society. One of our more priority programs is to provide support to children and young people who have been affected in various ways by the conflicts that prevail in the country. This may, for example, be about ensuring their access to education. But also about giving young people the opportunity to earn a living, for example by offering vocational training.

We also work to prevent children from being recruited to armed groups, by actively influencing leaders of armed groups, authorities and civil society, and facilitating the children’s return to family and local community.

We support children who have lost or been separated from their parents with necessities such as food, water, soap, mattresses and blankets. Many of the children have lost their parents and come to school without clothes, shoes and other things they need in class. We hand out school packages with pencils, pads, toys and teaching materials.

“No child should have to experience the things I experienced”

When rebel groups captured the capital of Bangui in the Central African Republic, Francois’ father, relatives and neighbors were killed. Francois then joined a self-defense group where he was used as a child soldier. Today he has broken free and through Plan International has had the opportunity to create a new path in life.

Francois grew up in one of the areas in Bangui that was hardest hit when the violent conflict in the Central African Republic broke out in 2012. As a way to stop the rebels, various self-defense groups began to build up. Francois decided to join in revenge for his dead relatives and father.

– I was the youngest in the group. We were sent out into the jungle to learn how to handle weapons. We were constantly monitored by the armed group. We were forced to carry out armed attacks in several villages before we were allowed to return to the capital, says Francois.

After months of training in the jungle, the self-defense group returned to Bangui. There, Francois was reunited with his mother.

– She wanted me to come home. But my boss did not want that. So I only went to her when I was hungry.

In the end, Francois managed to escape the armed group and then got in touch with Plan International.

– Through Plan International, I trained as a carpenter. I started making furniture which I then sold. From the money I got together, I started my own small business. Right now I am selling oils and spices while I continue with the carpentry on the side to be able to help my mother financially.

He says that he wishes that no child would have to go through what he went through as a child soldier.

– No child should have to do what I did.

Plan International is actively working in the Central African Republic to provide children like Francois with vocational training to help them increase their income and improve their lives. Our program is sponsored by the EU and implemented in collaboration with a local organization.

Training

A second chance for a bright future

I am very happy to be able to go to school again, even if it feels strange after all the time I have been at home. I enjoy learning new things, especially math. When I grow up, I want to work as a teacher and teach others about things I can

Zara, 13 years old

When the civil war raged in the Central African Republic, Zara and many other children could not go to school. But thanks to the Plan International education program, more than 480 children have now been given a second chance and a way back to school.

Security and protection

Reunited after the war

I am very happy that I was able to be reunited with my father after we have been apart for four years

Bossin, 17 years

During the civil war in the Central African Republic, many children were separated from their parents. Bossin and his sister Anastasie were sent with their mother to Kaga-Bandoro for protection. Their father stayed in the capital Bangui. Shortly after their escape, their mother died. The father believed for a long time that his children had also died. But now he has been able to be reunited with his children again thanks to Plan International’s family reunification program.

Central African Republic

Facts about the Central African Republic

Capital: Bangui
Population: 4.7 million
Life expectancy: 52 years
Infant mortality rate: 85 per 1000 births
Proportion of children starting school: 71.9%
Literacy: 36.8%
Proportion of women in parliament: 9%