For millions of kids across North America, “back to school” means a chance to replenish last year’s stationary, score a handful of new clothing, and invest in a state-of-the-art laptop or tablet (lest he or she falls too far behind using last year’s model). For young girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), “back to school” can mean facing the looming decision to risk foregoing an education – or risk losing their life.
Over 7.5 million children (ages 5-17) are currently not in school, 3.9 million of whom are girls.
Imagine being told you can’t go to school because you’re a girl. For thousands of young girls in the DRC, this is a tragic reality, and a very real obstacle standing between their desire – and their ability – to receive a formal education. School-age girls in the DRC are routinely denied an education due to early forced marriage, domestic chores, child labour and poverty. And it gets worse. Thousands of young girls are unable to make the perilous trek from home to school and back every day due to the enormous risk of becoming a victim of sexual and gender-based violence.
Radio-Based Learning: Bringing Safer Education to Young Girls in the DRC
For the past 2 years, War Child has been running a pilot program called Making Waves in the Eastern part of the DRC. The radio-based learning program was designed to introduce a safe space where girls in the DRC could receive an education. For a few hours each day, groups of young girls gather at local community centers where lessons from an approved curriculum are broadcast via radio. The students are accompanied by learning assistants who guide them through the lessons, answering any questions that may arise. The results have been outstanding. Girls involved in the program are engaged in the school material, passing their exams and receiving the education that every child deserves.
Meet Mélanie Riziki, War Child Program Officer in the DRC
Mélanie heads up War Child’s radio-based learning program in South Kivu and has been working with War Child for a number of years. During a recent trip to Canada, Mélanie shared more about the situation of young women and girls in the DRC, and explained how War Child programs like Making Waves are paving a sustainable road to change. Check out the full video below and sign here if you think that every girl deserves the chance to go to school.