Since the beginning of 2023, the intensification of multiple and overlapping crises in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have devastated the provinces of Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, and Ituri. Millions of people need urgent humanitarian assistance due to conflict, natural disasters, health emergencies, and food insecurity.
In June 2023, a system-wide scale-up of the humanitarian response in these three provinces was declared to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable of the affected populations. Education partners have bolstered their efforts to provide access to quality education to crisis-affected children and the Global Education Cluster has deployed a Rapid Response Team Member (RRT) to reinforce coordination, support the multi-sector response and strengthen advocacy to raise the profile of the crisis.
The DRC currently hosts over 6.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), including 1.4 million boys, girls, and adolescents, including children with disabilities. The ongoing violence and the complexity of the crisis, coupled with an underfunded response, necessitate immediate and sustained action by the humanitarian community at international, national, and sub-national levels.
Close to 3 million children are in need of education services in these three provinces. Over 1,000 schools are impacted, including over 350 schools used as shelters by IDPs, which hampered the return to school of close to 115,000 students when the new school year started on 4 September.
There is an urgent need of rehabilitation of schools, equipping them with furniture and providing teaching and learning materials to allow children to have access to a safe and protective learning environment. Schools used as shelters by IDPs will require extensive repair and maintenance before they can open for the new school year (classroom wooden furniture used for heating and cooking, degraded and overused WASH facilities and latrines, damaged blackboards).
45 Education cluster partners in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu have been working closely with the Ministry of Education and local communities to enable children to go back to school, targeting more than 1.1 children in 2023. For instance, across the three Eastern DRC provinces, Education Clusters partners have built 429 temporary learning spaces since January 2023 and reached 124,000 children with learning kits, out of which 48% girls.
The longer children remain out of school, the less likely they are to return, and children who are out of school are more likely to be exposed to risks of psychological trauma, child trafficking, forced recruitment in armed groups, and Gender-Based Violence, including early marriage and pregnancy. With a new school year just started all efforts need to be on ensuring boys, girls, and adolescents, including children with disabilities in Eastern DRC get a chance to fulfill their right to access quality and safe education.