Pupils in a classroom almost empty at Kanyunyi primary school in Kalehe

The floods in Kalehe have taken children's lives and affected the education of surviving children

By Rodrigue Harakandi, Communications Officer and Jean Baptiste Mirindi, Senior Officer SBCC

Several schools saw their enrolments drop considerably after the disaster of 04 May 2023.

This is the case at Kanyunyi primary school in Bushushu, Kalehe territory in Eastern DRC. It had 574 pupils at the start of the 2022 school year, but on 24 May 2023, some three weeks after the disaster, has 333 pupils.

‘’We have recorded 33 confirmed deaths of pupils at my school.  I think some of our pupils are no longer coming because they are still in shock after losing many of their family members. Others have lost their parents and are afraid they won't be able to pay school fees in the next few days. But some have also moved after their homes were washed away," says Mukenke Jacques, headmaster of Kanyunyi primary school.

As for Mabula primary school, also located in the village of Bushushu, one of the villages hit by the disaster, the number of pupils has dropped from 773 to 304.

Natural disasters such as the floods in Kalehe can have serious consequences for children's mental health. Children may suffer from depression or have problems managing anger or anxiety and adapting in class, especially if they have lost close friends.

This is the case of Bahati, 13, a pupil in the 6th year of primary school at Mabula Primary School. His best friend Aksanti, with whom he shared the bench, has died, killed by Kalehe floods.

‘’Aksanti died with his parents trying to save him. We used to play ball together during recess and do homework together before going home," says Bahati, who has fond memories of their friendship.

At Mabula primary school, some classrooms are empty due to the absence of teachers who were also affected by the disaster. Some teachers have lost their spouses or children and are still in a state of shock to be able to teach properly.

The Kalehe floods have had a major impact on the education sector. Pupils and teachers were the victims of this tragedy, which left more than 400 dead and more than 5,000 missing. The achievements of World Vision's projects have almost been lost.

Formal education for children is important because it provides the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in life, develops important social and emotional skills, and offers broader and more advanced prospects for the future.

In response to this natural disaster crisis that has affected children's education, World Vision is implementing its response but is also calling on humanitarian actors and donors to allocate more funds to respond immediately to the consequences of this disaster but also to prevent future disasters. To achieve this, it is important to provide temporary access to education for displaced children who are no longer able to access their schools, train teachers in teaching practices adapted to emergency and crisis situations, offer psychological support services to affected children, support affected families and invest in prevention to minimise the impact of future natural disasters on children's education.