Hundreds of thousands of children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are missing out on education as schools struggle to reopen due to violence, displacement and shortage of teachers.
According to UNICEF, one in four primary schools in the conflict-hit country which makes about 500, are not functioning and a third of school-age children are not going to school.
CAR has been beset by violence between mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian anti- Balaka militias since the rebels ousted the then president in early 2013.
There are also security and access issues, the risks for children travelling to school, and a lack of civil servants and teachers, who had fled.
While many observers hope the recent election of president Faustin- Archang Touadera will help end the unrest, the security situation remains fragile.
UNICEF’s CAR representative Mohamed Malick Fall said resuming school is a challenge when around 20 percent of the population (4.6 million) has been displaced.
“There are also security and access issues, the risks for children travelling to school, and a lack of civil servants and teachers, who had fled,” he added.
The conflict has displaced more than 400,000 people within the country and forced almost half a million to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“UNICEF is providing teaching materials and giving catch-up lessons to tens of thousands of uprooted children, while many of the displaced are volunteering to teach,” Fall said.
Around 40 percent of schools were closed in CAR at the height of the conflict due to attacks, looting and armed occupation to help protect children from violence, recruitment into armed groups, and sexual abuse.