From the years 1920 -2017, the people of Central African Republic (CAR) have never enjoyed a peaceful and free prosperous society. From Saint-Sylvestre coup d’état in 1965 through to other coups and various violence up to date have denied the new generation, their basic right to education and a healthy future. The non-existence of political and economic freedom thoughout history have degenerated the democratic make-up of CAR. What every parent would have wished their children to have enjoyed, had seemed far from reach. Coming closer to the years 2013 – 2018, political and religious violence have taken center stage between largely Christian anti-balaka and mostly Muslim Seleka displacing more than a million people and stifling economic activities, and security. The Seleka rebel coalition, ousted President François Bozizé of the Central African Republic on March 24, 2013, committed grave violations against Children, civilians, including depredation, uncounted number of executions, rape, torture, and destruction of infrastructures.
When the Seleka rebels took control of the capital Bangui, they went on a robbing spree, killing civilians, raping women, and settling scores with members of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA). These high “intercommunal” ferocities and insecurity across CAR that have continued unabated, keeps making poverty smiling and weakening its systems of education for a field day.
According to UNICEF, teachers, parents and children have been dislodged by this sectarian violence, leaving classrooms empty and others occupied by rebels. So much have been taken from children during these periods of unrest, especially education. Prior to the 2013 counterstroke, the primary gross enrollment rate had reached almost 72% at the primary level, showing slow signs of improvement with regards to access to school but with about 3% lower enrollment rates in preprimary education and 7% at the secondary school. With teachers, about 82 students per teacher on average in the primary schools, and more to it is the lack of qualified teachers. Even though public education is compulsory and free between the ages of 6 – 14, it hasn’t been encouraging ever before the war and now, due to low allocated government budgets. The war made education to further go on its knees with higher infrastructure deficit.
The high shortage of classrooms, schools, basic facilities, textbooks and other logistics in the aftermath of the 2013 political crisis, led to over one-third of schools damaged in the country, which augmented school dropout and almost two thirds of schools in the conflict-ridden zones remaining closed. Some 65 per cent of teachers are unqualified parents who have volunteered as teachers. In the vein of 2013, literacy rate for young women is 27.4 per cent and for young men 51.1 per cent. A 14 and 19 years old child who could not be educated during the reprisal could be 19 years and 24 years old in 2018 – an adult without education to help him create opportunities. Are there any hope for such people? Certainly, there’re but much has been lost in life. This is likely to draw the county’s pool of knowledge in the mud with higher unemployment rate in about a decade to come.
Children have lost their liberty, freedom, high dreamt career occupation, and the peaceful democratic environmental means of nurturing their talents to creating opportunities for a prosperous society. The future leaders currently have difficulties accessing basic education, and the lacks of effective schools are disfiguring the hopes of these innocent ones. The new generation cannot be robbed of education and liberty, their best hope for a better and more peaceful prosperous future. When freedom is absent, opportunities are lost and the people become downtrodden. CAR has never known domestic political freedom, when would this generation go further to embrace peace, rights and freedom?
Written by: Peter Bismark Kwofie