Kinshasa, DR Congo:
Eleven million girls cannot return to school even after the global coronovirus ban is lifted, UNESCO chief Audrey Azole said during a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Thursday.
“We fear that the closure of schools in many countries has unfortunately resulted in damage”, three days after the start of the 2020-2021 school year in the country, Azole went to a high school in the capital, Kinshasa.
“We estimate that 11 million girls around the world will not be able to go to school.”
The former French Minister of Culture said: “We have carried out an awareness campaign on the need for schools to go back to school”.
Girls’ education is “unfortunately very uneven,” Azoulay said, stressing that their access to schooling is a priority for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Congolese Education Minister Willie Bakonga, along with Azole, urged him to support the national free public primary education program launched by President Felix Tsekkedi in September last year.
He said the program has enabled more than four million children to join or re-enter the education system in a poor but mineral-rich Central African country.
Imitating the reform as “very ambitious”, Azoulay recognized “huge challenges” in terms of infrastructure, teacher training and budget.
Urging girls to stay in school “for as long as possible”, she said she “would support the Congolese authorities in the large-scale efforts that should be made for the quality of education”.
Experts estimate the annual cost of free primary education at $ 2.64 billion, a significant sum for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As of September 11, according to Congo’s central state, total state revenue did not exceed $ 2.5 billion.
But the World Bank has pledged $ 800 million for education in the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, where 73% of its population lives in extreme poverty.
(This story was not edited by NDTV employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)