Last updated: January 2015
Central African Republic (CAR): Bangui and across the country
Internal armed conflict and the overspill of fighting from neighboring countries has caused successive waves of violence in CAR since 2003, leaving the country with some of the worst humanitarian indicators in the world. Since the initial attacks against the François Bozizé regime in December 2012 and the overthrow by the Séléka coalition in March 2013 violence against civilians and ethnic minorities has soared.
As of December 2014, OCHA estimates 2.7 million of 4.6 million people are in need of immediate assistance, half of them children.
According to OCHA's CAR Situation Report No.45 (as of 7 January 2015) there were 438,538 internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside CAR, 51,058 of whom were in the capital of Bangui; according to the same source, there were 461,200 CAR refugees in neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
According to a Press Release from Save the Children International on 18 December 2014, the number of boys and girls under the age of 18 recruited by armed groups has escalated to four times the level it was prior to the outbreak in December 2012. An estimated 6,000 to 10,000 children are currently members of armed groups, compared to around 2,500 at the beginning of the crisis. The risk is high for more out-of-school adolescents join armed groups.
According to the Global Education Cluster, "against a backdrop of persistent political instability, low socio-economic standards and weak governance, the Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced increasing levels of violence since the initial attacks against the former government in December 2012 until its overthrow by the Séléka coalition in March 2013. Since August 2013, violence against civilians and ethnic minorities has soared in the northern and western regions, causing fear, mistrust and hatred between communities, generating a dangerous spiral of violence.” Attacks by the anti-balaka and retaliation by ex-Séléka on 5 December 2013 led to an unprecedented increase in violence and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people within CAR. "Gross human right violations were committed, including killing and maiming, gender-based violence and lootings.” On 11 December 2013 an inter-agency Level 3 emergency was declared. Communal violence surged across the country in 2014, with 5,186 deaths having occurred since December 2013, according to the January 2015 Global Emergency Overview. Moreover, according to OCHA, attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), including the abduction of children, has increased in CAR since the end of 2013. After a few weeks of a positive trend in the return of IDPs, renewed violence took place in October 2014 seriously disrupting humanitarian operations. This violence incited a significant number of people to seek safety in public building, including schools.
"The humanitarian coordinator for CAR, Abdou Dieng, told IRIN: 'It is because of poor education that the country finds itself in its current state.'"
According to the Global Education Cluster, "the crisis following the coup d'état in March 2013 has had a damaging impact on what was already an extremely fragile education system." Moreover, "years of insufficient investment mean the country has only about 9,000 teachers, of whom half are unqualified maître-parents (community volunteer [teachers]) or semi-qualified trainees. CAR’s only teacher training college offers just 150 places a year (for a two-year training), too few to achieve acceptable teacher-pupil ratios in a country of 4.6 million people."
According to the CAR Education Cluster February 2014 evaluation report, 7% of schools nationwide were being used for shelters, and 35% of school in Bangui were being used as shelters. The same report states that in the 2012-2013 school year, children in CAR lost about five months of schooling; what's more, 37% of schoolchildren, or 278,500 students, enrolled in the 2012-2013 school year were not enrolled from 2013-2014. According to ACAPS January 2015 Global Emergency Overview, over 1.4 million children in CAR were in need of education as of December 2014. The same report states that an estimated 80% of children were out of school as of 25 June 2014.
Political unrest and insecurity in CAR since December 2012 have been accompanied by an increase in the number of attacks against schools. In recent months, schools have been looted, occupied by armed groups, struck by bullets, and set ablaze. According to the CAR Education Cluster February 2014 evaluation report, 111 schools surveyed out of the 355 had been attacked, or 33% of the sample; 70% of schools surveyed in Bangui had been attacked, 48% in Ouaka, and 44% in Ombella-Mpoko. Recent reports show a worsening situation of attacks against schools. According to the CAR Education Cluster Bulletin No. 8 (November and December 2014), 109 primary and secondary schools have been identified as having had one or more cases of attacks. The trend appears to be on the rise as 29.5% of the cases were reported to the Education Cluster without any investigation. The most common types of attacks are theft and looting and the occupation of schools by armed forces and groups. According to the CAR Education Cluster Bulletin No. 8, the presence of armed forces and groups in schools has led to declining enrollment and will overall worsen academic success. In addition to endangering the lives of children and teachers, attacks prevent the reopening and operation of schools in a time when stability is crucial. A single attack has the ability to reverse months of educational progress and prevent hundreds of children from going to school not only by destroying the school in itself but also by instilling fear in populations. The CAR Education Cluster has established a reporting mechanism in order to document the attacks on schools and leverage advocacy efforts across the different human rights and coordination platforms.
According to the April 2014 IRIN news article, "Getting CAR Back to School," in March 2014, schools in Bangui officially reopened; an official from the education ministry said that as of 4 April 2014 about 80% of schools across the country had reopened. However, when the Education Cluster contacted public and private schools, more than two-thirds of state schools and more than half of private schools were still closed. As of February 2014, all schools in the prefectures of Kémo, Ouham, and Sangha-Mbaéré were closed and zero students were enrolled. According to the OCHA CAR Situation Report No. 34 (as of 16 July 2014), the national ministry of education indicates that 45% of schools remain closed; in the central region, only 6% of schools have reopened.
Many teachers' pay has been frozen; with their homes burnt or looted, they too are struggling to make ends meet; many are unable to show up for work. Temporary learning spaces are operating until schools are more secure. The temporary learning and protection program, ETAPE, of which peace education is a critical element, pays nearly 700 teachers around $65 - half of the starting salary for qualified teachers.
Since January 2014, 37,715 children and youth have benefited from learning and protection activities in 174 ETAPEs in Bangui, Bossangoa, Boda, Gaga, Grimari and Yaloke; children aged between 3 and 18 received access to basic education in displacement sites and refugee camps; a total of 612 teachers and animators were trained in psychosocial support to children, according to the OCHA CAR Situation Report No. 45 (as of 7 January 2015). In an effort to combat food insecurity, "school-feeding programmes are ongoing countrywide... so far, 147,185 students have benefited from these programmes in 12 provinces and Bangui." Emergency rehabilitation and construction activities have been completed in 64 schools, providing decent learning and recreational spaces to more than 20,460 students, according to the same OCHA SitRep. Construction and rehabilitation activities are ongoing in 280 schools in 11 Provinces and Bangui. In December 2014, UNICEF started a back to school campaign aimed at getting 662,000 children back into school in 2014-2015. Since CAR’s official school year started on 20 November, UNICEF has “scaled up its support for students, teachers and the Ministry of Education (MoE) with the provision of important teaching and learning materials, supply of school furniture and ensuring the successful completion of critical catch-up classes,” according to the UNICEF CAR Humanitarian Situation Report (8 January 2015).
The following education actors are currently providing an education response to the crisis:
According to the Strategic Response Plan(s): Central African Republic 2014 List of Projects from the Financial Tracking Service dated 15 January 2015, 35.3% of funding for EiE projects have been covered; the unmet requirement is $17,220,353.
Priority interventions for the Education Cluster according to the 2014 revised CAR Strategic Response Plan are:
1. Provision of life-saving relief and protective activities in temporary learning spaces in IDP sites (ETAPEs – Espaces Temporaires d’Apprentissage et de Protection de l’Enfant)
2. Distribution of emergency recreational, teaching, and learning materials
3. Identification, training, and support to teachers and facilitators
4. Development of relevant education and life skills content.
According to CAR Situation Report No. 45 (as of 7 January 2015), current education needs include “Temporary safe learning spaces (ETAPEs) with age-sensitive educational and recreational activities, teaching and learning materials and child-protection services for 180,000 people; psychosocial training for 2,500 teachers; and school-feeding activities, particularly in provinces with a low rate of student returns, for 250,000 people.”
The same SitRep reports that "Constant population movements and volatile security situations due to ongoing fighting in some provinces are challenging the provision of structured education, child-protection activities and the timely delivery and distribution of school supplies.” Additionally, a limited quantity of school supplies is insufficient to meet the urgent needs of the schools that are reopening.
Priority objectives for the sector according to the June 2014 Education Cluster strategy are:
General objective 1: Ensure access to quality inclusive education for children, adolescents, and youth between the ages of 3 and 24 years.
1) Ensure access to education and retention of young children, children, adolescents, and youth, in all sites where there are no formal schools.
2) Reinforce access to education and retention of pre-primary, primary, and secondary age children in returnee schools.
3) Promote access to education for adolescents and youth who do have not benefited from education opportunities or who are outside of the education system.
General objective 2: Ensure coordination of education in emergencies.
1) Ensure response planning and coordination through information management (regular collection and analysis of information on the situation, needs, gaps, and progress of the response as well as the prioritization of interventions).
2) Increase response financing by implementing an education in CAR advocacy strategy.
3) Reinforce capacities of national actors in EiE.
The following key INEE resources in English and French can be used to support EiE efforts in Central African Republic.
rebel groups, conflict, internal displacement, child soldiers, primary and secondary education, access and quality
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