When I got out of a small WFP flight in Bossangoa, an hour away from the capital city Bangui, the scenery had changed completely: before me was a vast empty area used as an airport with dusty roads leading us to the town of Bossangoa.
Yet, when I approached one of the schools, my impression changed again. Standing outside of a pre-primary classroom built under a tent, I heard children singing loudly in French. When I entered, I saw children singing and dancing in a nicely decorated space, equipped with educational toys, just like what I’m used to seeing in my country.
GPE support: more classrooms, better teaching
One of the teachers told me that he had been specially trained on how to create a conducive learning environment for young children. Obviously he was applying what he had learned! He was proactively asking questions to children. When they responded, he acknowledged the responses by clapping his hands, and then all other children did the same.
In the Central African Republic, which ranks as the second lowest on the UN Human Development Index, the success of this pre-primary classroom is a ray of hope. It was also the first experience of pre-primary education after a major security crisis in 2013 deteriorated the social fabric, destroyed the social service delivery system, and displaced over 25% of the country’s population.
There are more than 600,000 refugees from CAR in neighboring countries and almost the same number is internally displaced. According to UNHCR, 12,400 CAR returnees were supported in 2019, and this number is expected to double in 2020.