Kinshasa | Eleven million girls around the world are at risk of not returning to school after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay warned Thursday, traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“We have launched a communication campaign on the need for girls to return to school,” she said during a visit to a high school in Kinshasa, three days after the start of the school year in the country.
The education of girls in the world “unfortunately remains very unequal”, regretted the former French Minister of Culture, recalling that their education and their access to school is a priority of the United Nations for the education, science and culture (UNESCO).
At his side, the Congolese Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Willy Bakonga, invited UNESCO to support free public primary education implemented by President Félix Tshisekedi since September 2019 in the DRC.
This measure has enabled more than four million children to integrate or re-enter the education system, according to the minister.
Welcoming a “very ambitious” reform, Ms. Azoulay underlined that it nevertheless posed “enormous challenges in terms of infrastructure, number of schools, teacher training, and the capacity also to finance the salaries of teachers. teachers ”.
Calling on girls to continue their studies “as long as possible”, she promised to support the Congolese authorities in “the massive effort that must be made for the quality of education”.
“This is the advocacy that we have already made with the World Bank,” she said.
The cost of free education is estimated at some 2.64 billion dollars per year, a heavy amount for the DRC whose budgetary revenues did not exceed 2.5 billion dollars on September 11, according to the central bank of Congo.