By: Elizabeth Stoltz
Burundi is an east African country bordered by Rwanda, the DRC, and Tanzania. Since 1994, over a decade before civil war ravaged the nation, Concern has worked in Burundi providing health, education, and livelihood support. As millions of students in America head back to school this September, we take a look at education in Burundi!
In Burundi, schooling is mandatory for children ages 7-13. However, due to the civil war that ended in 2005, many schools were destroyed. The country suffered extreme teacher shortages and a lack of access to educational resources. Because over a quarter of schools were destroyed during the war, many children are forced to walk several miles each day to the closest school building. Although the government attempts to make primary education free, for many, especially girls, attending school is out of the question. Reenrolling in schools also presented a huge challenge to Burundian child soldiers and child refugees.
Currently, the literacy rate in Burundi is just under 60% and the country is ranked 174 out of 182 on the Human Development Rank. To address the need for increased access to education, Concern places great focus on constructing and rehabilitating schools, distributing educational resources and materials to teachers and students, and assisting in funding for school uniforms and fees. To see Concern’s distribution efforts at work, scroll through our “Burundi” Facebook album. You’ll find photos book, pen, ruler, and uniform distribution to the Batwa, Burundi’s most marginalized group.
Of course, in many cases, a school is only as good as its teachers! Concern organized a two-week course of over 800 teachers in Burundi. Concern also trained over 3007 head teachers in school management. From providing water pumps and latrines, pens and books, and training on gender equity and HIV/AIDS, Concern is eager to help Burundians provide quality education for all young minds.
If you were in charge of overseeing the construction of a school in Burundi, what would you do? What supplies would you make sure were available? How many schools would you need to build to ensure that all children had access? How would you provide equal education to boys and girls? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!