Back to School: a campaign to strengthen the education system in Burundi

UNICEF, with the support of the Global Partnership for Education, launched the “Back to School” campaign to help more than one million children get learning materials in seven of the most deprived provinces in Burundi.

February 07, 2018 by Ny Lova Rajonson, UNICEF Burundi
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5 minutes read
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UNICEF, with the support of GPE, launched  the “Back to School” campaign to help more than one million children get learning materials in seven of the most deprived provinces in Burundi.
UNICEF, with the support of GPE, launched the “Back to School” campaign to help more than one million children get learning materials in seven of the most deprived provinces in Burundi.
UNICEF/Aziz Froutan

Nzomukunda, 11, lives in Kirundo, a province located in northern Burundi. Her parents can’t afford to buy school supplies for her and her four siblings. “I need pencils and notebooks to continue my education,” she says. Her father left her mother and her mother is trying hard to take care of the family.

The start of a new academic year in disadvantaged provinces is a challenging time for students and their parents.

With close to 65% of its population living below the poverty line, Burundi is among the poorest countries in the world, and despite having a good primary school net enrollment ratio – 94% – access to quality education is limited in this landlocked country.

A needed initiative

UNICEF, with the support of the Global Partnership for Education, launched a campaign called “Back to School” to help Nzomukunda and more than one million other children to get learning materials in seven of the most deprived provinces. Students in grade 4 living in Cankuzo, Kirundo, Makamba, Muyinga, Rumonge, Rutana and Ruyigi provinces received notebooks.

With financial support from GPE, 3.5 million textbooks have been distributed to all children enrolled in 7th and 8th grades in 2017.

Nzomukunda receives stationary during the Back to School campaign supported by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Credit: UNICEF/Ny Lova RAJONSON

Nzomukunda receives stationary during the Back to School campaign supported by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Photo Credit: UNICEF/Ny Lova RAJONSON

“I will continue my education. I want to become a doctor to help people around me,” wishes Nzomukunda. She is in grade 4 in a classroom with 76 other students. In some other classrooms, more than 90 children come together to learn and build their future.

New classrooms were constructed for more than 800 children and they are no longer walking for three to five kilometers to reach the nearest school.

Improving the quality of education

The Back to School campaign supports the government in improving the quality of education, a major issue in Burundi. Teachers also have a critical role to play in improving learning outcomes. Strengthening their capacity will result in improving the quality of learning. To close the learning gap, teachers of Grade 9 received pedagogical teaching materials in every subject.

The campaign has also become a powerful first response and strategy to facilitate access to protective learning environments for thousands of children. By providing school kits (notebooks, pencils, pens, rulers, erasers and school bags), UNICEF ensures that children return to and stay in school in a difficult context.

The campaign aimed to intensify advocacy, communication and social mobilization efforts to attract governments, communities, children journalists, donors and partner organizations on the need to provide safe spaces and educational material to Burundian children.

Building schools, training teachers, advocating for girls’ education and reaching children at risk of dropping out of school: through all of these activities, UNICEF wants to make sure every child has access to a quality education in Burundi.

UNICEF's Back to School campaign launched in October 2017, with support from the Global Partnership for Education, to help children achieve their dreams of a better future.
Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Haro
GPE supported UNICEF in procuring, updating, editing, printing and distributing school textbooks nationwide.
Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Haro
This meant that every Burundian child, enrolled in 7th and 8th grade, received a textbook per subject. This amounted to an impressive total of 3,556,877 textbooks distributed in 2017.
Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Haro
Ninth grade teachers also received new pedagogical materials for every subject taught.
Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Haro
In addition, 20 children journalists were trained on children’s right to education and the Back to School campaign for long-term follow up in target communities.
Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Haro
The Back to School campaign has been effective in improving access to protective learning environments for thousands of children In Burundi. Providing children with textbooks and school kits ensures they can return to, and stay in school, despite difficult contexts.
Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Haro
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Teaching quality, Textbooks
Sub-Saharan Africa: Burundi

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Hi Ny, very interested in the article on Back to School in Burundi which included learning materials and some 3.5 million textbooks. I was just part of a meeting of the Global Book Alliance hosted by ADEA in Abidjan, an intiative which seeks to ensure all children have access to quality learning materials. Would love to hear more about the Burundi books -- what subjects, who published them, how were they distributed, etc. Is it possible to learn more in this regard? thank you.

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