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14 April 2014
Zeynabou Kane

Education under attack: Central African Republic

Most attacks took place after the Séléka rebellion in late 2012 and during 2013. More than 100 schools were damaged, destroyed or looted, two dozen were used for military purposes and there were reports of students and teachers being killed. By early 2013, one in two schools had closed.

CONTEXT

The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced decades of political unrest, including two conflicts in the past ten years and ongoing violence, particularly in the north. Various armed rebel groups, including the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and of Democracy (APRD), the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), and the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), fought government forces between 2004 and 201. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group originally from Uganda, spread its operations into south-east CAR after 2008. In late 2012, renewed conflict broke out when a group of rebel forces known as Séléka (meaning ‘coalition’ in Sango), comprised primarily of UFDR and CPJP dissidents and members of the Patriotic Convention for the Salvation of Kodro (CPSK), accused President François Bozizé’s government of failing to abide by previous peace agreements. Séléka’s military campaign from the north to the capital Bangui in the south-west culminated in a coup d’état on 24 March 2013 and the formation of a new transitional government. However, for months after the coup, law and order broke down and Séléka forces committed serious human rights abuses against civilians.In October 2013, a UN Security Council Resolution was unanimously approved to deploy an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force and to support a possible UN peacekeeping mission. By early December 2013, amid escalating violence, French troops were additionally deployed to CAR after the Security Council authorized their temporary intervention and the use of ‘all necessary measures’ to support the AU-led peacekeeping force in protecting civilians and restoring order.506 The education system suffered as teachers and students were displaced and schools were shut, damaged or destroyed. By April 2013, nearly half of CAR’s schools had closed and more than 650,000 children were out of school. Net enrolment at primary level was estimated at 69 per cent in 2011, and 14 per cent at secondary level, while gross tertiary enrolment was only 3 per cent. The estimated adult literacy rate was 57 per cent. In the northern conflict-affected regions, net primary enrolment was only 48 per cent in 2012.

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