Officially launched in Kinshasa in March 2010, the CSTL programme in DRC has seen growth in many areas, including advocacy, adaptation of CSTL tools to the national context, the organization of monitoring and the systematic collection of school data, participation of five schools in the Speak Out! campaign, and very importantly, multisectoral collaboration between Education and other relevant ministries and development partners. There has also been the chance to share ideas with other participating SADC Member Sates at regional meetings.
One vital lesson learnt has been that children who have been deprived of education in their early years can be successfully accommodated in the system’s School Remedy Centres. In addition, the registration age for girls has been raised from 6 to 8 years to allow for their possible late entry into school, thus encouraging parity between girls and boys. These initiatives ensure that many children will no longer be denied a basic education.
The DRC’s care and support successes thus far include the establishment of 28 school support committees in the participating schools; the training of 436 teachers, head teachers, parents, members of local authorities and school support committee members in data collection and management, as part of the Speak Out! project; the many recorded referrals of vulnerable children to health care and other facilities. Statistics are being kept and show that schools are being fenced, gardens have been established and students were assisted with bursary applications. There is also collaboration with local communities and government to provide services, such as water to schools.
Future planned activities include the establishment of a “Care and Support Service Provider” database in schools: this will assist with monitoring children’s access to services, as well as learning outcomes. Advocacy will continue at all levels, including fundraising for schools, the involvement of development agencies in support of vulnerable children and the holding of “awareness days” on care and support in the 38 CSTL schools.
These plans, building on the DRC’s achievements thus far, will take the programme forward into the next phase of CSTL.