Kinshasa, DR Congo:
Eleven million girls are at risk of not being able to return to school even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted around the world, UNESCO official Audrey Azoulay said on Thursday during a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“We fear that in many countries the closure of schools has unfortunately resulted in losses,” Azoulay said while visiting a high school in the capital Kinshasa, three days after the start of the country’s 2020-2021 school year.
“We estimate that 11 million girls will not be able to go back to school around the world.”
Thus, “we have launched an awareness campaign on the need for schools to return to school,” said the former French Minister of Culture.
Education “unfortunately remains very uneven” for girls, Azoulay said, stressing that their access to schooling is a priority for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Congolese Minister of Education Willy Bakonga, accompanying Azoulay, urged her to support the national free public primary education program launched by President Félix Tshisekedi in September last year.
He said the program has enabled more than four million children to join or join the education system in the poor but mineral-rich Central African country.
Calling the reform “very ambitious”, Azoulay acknowledged the “huge challenges” in terms of infrastructure, teacher training and budgeting.
Urging girls to continue their education “for as long as possible”, she said she would support the Congolese authorities in “the massive effort that must be made for the quality of education”.
Experts estimate the annual cost of free primary education at $ 2.64 billion, a colossal sum for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As of September 11, total state revenues did not exceed $ 2.5 billion, according to the Central Bank of Congo.
But the World Bank has pledged $ 800 million to help finance education in the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, where 73% of the population lives in extreme poverty.
(This story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)