Schools re-open in post-crisis Cote d'Ivoire

School girl in Cote d'Ivoire

School girl in Cote d'Ivoire

Hundreds of thousands of kids are slowly returning to school in Cote d’Ivoire in the aftermath of a crisis triggered by last November’s disputed presidential election. But challenges remain. Many of the schools were badly damaged during the fighting, and it’s estimated that 200,000 children are still out of school.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Duration: 2’25”

SFX young girl ringing school bell

Schools are slowly re-opening in the wake of the post election violence in Cote d’Ivoire.

Many, like Fengue, located in Abobo, a suburb in the capital Abidjan, have been occupied and looted by military forces.

A bomb shell that exploded in the school has heavily damaged the classrooms and the roof.

Only one-tenth of its children are back in classroom, says Gabin Zerebi Touboui, Head of the school.

“Teachers come to school, but children are still very few. For those who come we try and keep them in class by studying what we did before the crisis, so that parents see school has started back. It’s a very slow reopening.”

One million children have been forced out of school because of the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire last November.

Most schools remain closed as fighting continues in certain areas.

As part of its “Back to School Campaign”, UNICEF is distributing 500,000 school kits and bags to the most affected children.

Gilberte Yeble Amari is UNICEF’s Head of Education in Cote d’Ivoire:

“Many of those children have been displaced and found their houses empty when they came home. They lost everything. Those kits are then the first step to help them gain confidence and get back on track until the end of the school year.”

In the west of the country, the situation is alarming: 80 percent of the schools have been damaged or looted and only one third of the teachers have come back.

Like the village of Bloleu, where more than 200 children are back to school. But where there is only one teacher.

“At the start of the day it’s hard to settle everyone down, I teach 6 classes, it’s pretty exhausting, I really look forward to seeing the colleagues come back so that we can really start the year.”

Michel Tehe Seroux has to switch classes in the middle of the lesson, to ensure every child is getting an education.

Many teachers have yet to be paid their dues before returning to work.

Meanwhile, UNICEF and its partners are busy training and recruiting more teachers, in hopes of convincing the remaining 200,000 children to return to school.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

SOURCE: UNICEF

DURATION: 2’26″

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