Nowadays, 40% of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries (UNESCO, 2011, p.i). Yet, the impact of such conflict on education has been largely unreported. The right of children to education is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, The International convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1967 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 (Masinda, 2001, p.12). However, such right is hard to uphold where there is political instability. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region the most affected by conflict. It also is also one of the regions with the slowest advance towards the MDGs and the EFA education goals. In this region, one of the least developed countries is the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the Human Development Index, the Democratic Republic of Congo is positioned 186 over 187 of the least developing countries (UNDP, 2013). Its history of war and conflict makes it a perfect unit of analysis to highlight the problems that conflicts pose on education. On July 12, 2013, on Malala’s birthday, the teachers of North-Kivu, one of the regions where most of the combats have taken place in the past years, sent a letter to José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, to insist on the need to make efforts to ensure children receive education in conflict-affected areas (Lettre ouverte, 2008). The wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been engendered by ethnicity conflicts between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s militias. Bordering states have taken part in this conflict supporting either of the militias, such as Rwanda or Uganda. Therefore, situated along the border with such countries, the eastern regions of North Kivu, South Kivu, Katanga, and Orientale have been the most affected. Armed groups such as the M23, FDLR, and Mai Mai threaten civilians (Refugee International, 2013). This paper therefore focuses on these eastern regions to evaluate the implications of conflict on education. As the DR Congo has been in almost continuous instability since 1998, this paper will make use of a range of sources from 2000 until now. This will allow a better accountability of all possible impacts on education, especially because the data availability in time of conflict is scarcer. The impacts of the conflict discussed in this paper can be both direct and indirect; these range from the destruction of schooling infrastructure, the recruiting of child soldiers, the diversion of available resources to other sectors – both from Congolese budget and foreign aid -, sexual violence, insecurity, poverty and the resulting psychological trauma. All these consequences mentioned above have some implications for the educational development of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a matter of simplicity, the Democratic Republic of Congo will be referred to as DR Congo in the text.
The Impact on school enrolment and attendance
Due to these constant conflicts, DR Congo is a great case study to show the great impact of the conflict on educational development. The impacts can be direct or indirect. One direct impact of the conflict on school attendance are the destruction of schooling infrastructures. This has a direct impact on education, as without a school to go to, children are unable to attend it. Such scarcity of infrastructure happened for example in South-Kivu, which led children unable to go to school on a regular basis (Center for Education Innovations, 2005). Also, in the region of Kungu, the destruction of schools led to a very low enrolment percentage of primary school children of only 56% in 2011 (UNICEF, 2011). The low levels of attendance are also due to the insecurity created by the lack of feeling of safety within the schools. This insecurity at school is also reinforced by another direct effect of the…