On the first day of the new 2023-2024 academic year in Burkina Faso, UNICEF warns that at least 1 in 4 schools – or 6,149 – remain shut due to ongoing violence and insecurity in parts of the country. As a result, an estimated one million children are out of school and exposed to many threats.
More than 31,000 teachers and over one million children can no longer go back to their classrooms, fearing for their safety. Meanwhile, at least 230 schools currently serve as temporary shelters for more than 52,000 internally displaced persons, further deteriorating access to education for thousands of children.
“Having so many children still unable to return to school due to violence and insecurity, and so many schools closed, is very upsetting. We need to continue our work and ensure every child in Burkina Faso can access education and fulfil their dreams in peace and safety,” said John Agbor, UNICEF Representative in Burkina Faso.
As soon as insecurity becomes rife in certain conflict hotspots, schools are immediately closed, and teachers, parents, and children are forced to flee their homes to find refuge elsewhere.
However, despite the ongoing insecurity, more than 3.8 million girls and boys are returning to their education path, including in regions strongly affected by conflict.
In collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages (MENAPLN) has ramped up efforts to bring children back into classrooms, particularly in areas most affected by the security crisis, including the Nord, Centre-Nord, Boucle du Mouhoun, Est, Centre-Est and Sahel regions.
This year alone, UNICEF has supported MENAPLN to facilitate access to education for 763,000 children through formal education, accelerated schooling strategies, vocational training and education by radio programme, and distributed over 150,000 school kits and supplies. In addition, 2,670 radio sets to support education by radio, 500 school-in-a-box kits, and 435 recreational and early childhood development (ECD) kits will be distributed to cover the needs of 37,400 children. UNICEF also supported teacher training to ensure 350 new schools apply the “Quality Child-Friendly School” standards and the Safe School approach.
At least 756 girls and boys trained in interpersonal communication, promotion of peace, social cohesion, and gender, and go door-to-door to inform 76,800 parents and caregivers of the importance of education to encourage massive registration of children at school. These back-to-school advocates have reached 1 million parents.
Still, in 2023, around 5.5 million people need humanitarian assistance in Burkina Faso, including 3.2 million children caught up in the conflict. More than 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, 58 per cent of whom are children.
While the humanitarian crisis continues, challenges and needs persist, and resources dwindle. In line with the 2023 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) Appeal, UNICEF requires $226.7 million to continue providing children and vulnerable populations with life-saving goods and services. To date, only 13 per cent of the required funds have been allocated.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).