How we supported 8,000 Burundian children to go back to school

Oct. 1, 2019

Burundi

11_20150728_War Child-Kahunga primary school Lusenda-event.news item.jpg
War Child has come together with child protection committees and local authorities in Burundi to bring out-of-school children back into education. These efforts have seen nearly 8,000 children reclaim their right to learn. Read on to find out how we did it...

Three times more children return to school

Just last week, we received encouraging news from our Burundi country office. Thanks to the work carried out by communities and with the coaching of our local staff, 7,866 children who had dropped out of school in recent years - have returned to school the beginning of September. Among them are 2,077 of the most vulnerable children who were able to benefit from the material support provided to them by VSLA's (Village Saving and Loan Associations) as part of our programmes. This number has tripled in less than a year.

Burundi kinderen klaslokaal school War Child

Through combined efforts, a total of 7,866 Burundian children found their way back to school in 2019

Photo: Jeppe Schilder

School kits and materials for Burundian children

War Child has worked with local communities to reintegrate children into schools in five different regions of Burundi. Vital to the success of our combined efforts were the distribution of school kits and materials. Due to the work of the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VLSA's) children's families and other community members were able to increase their income, allowing their children the time and resources to make their way back to the school benches.

Our Burundi country director, Thierry Parodi, highlights the importance of the school kits and materials - especially for the most vulnerable children - 'as it reduces their need to engage in non-educational activities such as farming and extensive household duties.’ Not only will this increase their chances of reintegrating into school, but it will also help them complete their education. Importantly, it will also provide children with a safe learning environment. Thierry: 'War Child is also undertaking a number of specific activities within the schools that help protect children.’

Providing children with access to health care and education

In addition to reintegrating almost 8,000 children in school, we have combined forces with community child protection specialists to register children in the Burundi civil registry. This effort has led to over 31,000 children obtaining a birth certificate in 2019. This is an important accomplishment, as it not only gives children access to their right to a nationality and inheritance, but it also to health care and education. Moreover, being registered reduces children’s risk of imprisonment.

Children in Burundi back to school War Child

Handing out school kits and materials to vulnerable children in Burundi as part of our programme with local communities

Photo: War Child

Burundi-Kahunga primary school Lusenda-content placeholder.jpg

For Burundi children, education is not just a way of getting back on track: it substantially lowers acute risks including (sexual) abuse, exploitation and physical injury

Photo: Jeppe Schilder

Growing up in Burundi

In the face of recent improvements, Burundi still remains beset by post-conflict instability. It is the fifth poorest African country - with 80 per cent of its population living in poverty. This enduring hardship is the legacy of civil war which erupted in 1993 between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups - claiming some 300,000 lives during its 13 years. Hundreds of thousands were internally displaced or sought refuge in neighbouring countries, mainly Tanzania.

More than half of all refugees in Burundi are children, many of whom have been separated from their parents and caregivers. Furthermore, approximately 60 percent of the 130,562 internally displaced people in Burundi are children. While education is critical for all children, it is particularly so for these children as it helps them get back on track and substantially lowers their risk to sexual and other abuse, exploitation, physical injury and, ultimately, death.