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DR Congo: Displaced students in North Kivu ready for state exam despite raging conflict

Students in Nyiragongo   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

In Nyiragongo, Goma, one of the main towns in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC)'s troubled eastern region, a school that will serve as the state examination center for displaced students has been readied.

Many of the students from Rutshuru and Kibumba had fled their towns after an upsurge in fighting in recent weeks between M23 rebels and Congo army forces. But some of these young people, traumatized by the conflict, are now preparing to take a crucial exam far from home.

Twenty-year-old Tushimwe Florent is preparing for the exam at the newly designated examination center, but the atrocities experienced in Kibumba, now under M23 control, still haunt him. 

Having fled the war the previous year, he yearns to find the strength to pass his exam and obtain his baccalaureate.

“I'm obliged to take the exam here because the situation in Kibumba is disastrous. Here, we can concentrate on our studies without fear of war. The government has covered the registration fees,” explains Tushimwe Florent.

Thousands of students are expected in Nyiragongo for this state exam.

Unfortunately, several hundred finalists still in areas under M23 occupation do not have access to these tests.

Local authorities say the situation is alarming, and their academic future is uncertain especially as some of these students are reported to have joined the army or patriotic movements to defend their towns.

“There were around 2,000 students after the inspector in charge of the file checked the register. Some have dropped out, others have joined the Wazalendo group to serve the country. They have judged it right to serve the country, you know it's also a choice, we can't condemn them for that ....", says Babi Kisuka, in charge of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education (EPST) in Nyiragongo, organizers of the out-of-session State Examinations.

Eastern Congo has been beset by conflict for years, with M23 among more than 100 armed groups vying for a foothold in the mineral-rich area near the border with Rwanda.

One of the provinces, North Kivu, has been the theatre of the conflict leaving thousands of people displaced and triggering a humanitarian situation that's affected among other things schooling in the region.

The 240,000 children who have fled with or without their parents to displacement camps around North Kivu’s capital, Goma, do not attend school, according to UNICEF.

Collectively, about one-third of North Kivu’s population has been displaced since 2022.

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