300,000 children back in class with CAR "school in a box" campaign

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School in a box. UNICEF

A huge push is under way to get hundreds of thousands of children back to school in war-torn Central African Republic amid continuing uncertainty over the country's security situation.

UN children's agency UNICEF, which is behind the campaign, says it's already seen 300,000 children return to class.

They're being given all the materials they need to teach in one hefty trunk that's called a "school in a box".

More than 60 per cent of schools have disappeared since the anti-Balaka militia overran Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, 12 months ago.

Sarah Crowe, UNICEF's Crisis Communications Chief, called the development an important first "baby step" towards a return to normality for communities.

She added that almost two million children had been affected by the conflict:

"What this meant to children of course was a year of learning lost and a year of their lives scarred and shattered. But there is now a bit of a glimmer of hope, some 300,000 children are going back to school. By the end of this month, we are aiming for 662,000 children to be able to resume their studies as schools gradually open."  (22″)

The box costs around 164 dollars and has materials for temporary classrooms including blackboards, notebooks and counting blocks.

As the campaign rolls out across the country the UN's refugee agency warned that more than 852,000 Central Africans are still displaced.

UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler said that there "was still the potential for violence" there as the agency tries to resolve one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.

But this is proving difficult as the 209 million dollar appeal is only 51 per cent funded.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1"40


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