Activity, Charity, Education, Helping

Challenges In The Burundi Education System

 

Burundi Classroom
Source: Development and Cooperation website

The number of schools in Burundi is not sufficient to cover the rising number of pupils despite the support of non-government organisations. Statistics show that the number of children attending school between the ages of six and 11 has risen sharply whilst 12 to 14-year-old students are more likely to drop out (‘Education’, UNICEF Burundi). Many reasons have contributed to this phenomenon, such as poverty and insufficient support, calling for new strategies to build a stronger education system.

The few schools that are present in Burundi are located far from the main city of Bujumbura. Alongside the physical cost of walking this distance to school each day is the economic cost of uniform and supplies. Students who do not drop out because of the long journey still face a difficult learning environment with inadequate facilities and stationery.

Religious organisations and non-government organisations are moving to change this. The Foundation Stamm opened a school in Bujumbura for children from all backgrounds. Girls and boys from both Burundi and Congo are now able to attend, often against the desire of parents who cannot afford supplies or would rather have children at home to help. Girls in particular are often expected to take care of the family or work in the field. The Foundation Stamm supports women in education as well as creating a unique cultural program that invests in music and arts, aiming to preserve the native language, Kirundi, which is being increasingly overtaken by French.

Additionally, religious communities build their own schools, offering the opportunity to learn in a good environment with capable teachers to those who share their beliefs. Saint Esprit is an example of a Christian school where Catholic pupils who pass an entry test can attend. Muslim schools are also available, but religious teaching is not a compulsory subject.

Besides the support of these organisations, the government is also collaborating with Unicef to distribute school materials through the “Back To School” campaign each September. More recently, Unicef launched a program on COVID-19 prevention, providing access to clean water and handwashing devices and showing its commitment to support the local government in formulating a strategy for an inclusive and healthy school system. In late March 2020, Unicef received a Global Partnership for Education grant of $70,000 to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A partnership between schools and health providers is aimed at facilitating the eradication of disease whilst supporting attendance to school.

Despite these programs, extreme situations of violence and poverty hinder the attempts to keep children in school and rely on continuous calls for action from all organisations, both religious and governmental, to support all children and their right to education.

 

Sources

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