VoiceMore group in the Central African Republic.
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VoiceMore in the CAR

VoiceMore youth in the Central African Republic are campaigning for safer schools free of coercion and corruption.

Safety in schools

Schools should be safe places to learn, but in many countries such as the Central African Republic (CAR), abuse and corruption can be common. Between 2016-2019 the VoiceMore group in Bangui, CAR worked to try and draw attention to corruption and abuse in schools.

The young people reported to War Child that demands for sexual favours and money from teachers in state schools, for the fair marking of papers and exams, access to basic school resources or even just to attend class, was having a detrimental impact on many children's safety and education. Young people called these abuses ‘sex for grades’ and ‘money for papers’.

Watch this video to hear the VoiceMore group explain the impact of the issue:

Understanding the issue 

The group conducted research in ten schools across Bangui to help gather evidence on the scale of the problem. The results were shocking and proved that safety in classrooms was a major issue that needed addressing.  

Of the 100 children surveyed, the group found: 

  • 73% of children reported ‘sex for grades’ was occurring in their classrooms 
  • 75% said the 'selling of notes' was happening in their school 
  • Girls were reported to be affected more than boys for both problems 
  • 95% of children said these practices were bad for education in CAR.
One day we had a new teacher at our school. He wrote his mobile number on the board and said if we ever needed any help with our work we could call him for support. My friend in the class was confused about her homework so she called him. He tried to make her come to his house. She felt afraid, so she did not go. After this he was angry at her and gave her bad marks. She is scared and now she is thinking about dropping out of school.
Neville, a VoiceMore participant in the Central African Republic.

Youth-led action for safer schools 

After conducting their research the group campaigned for more to be done to combat sexual abuse and corruption in schools. 

They called for: 

  • All teachers to be required to sign, and be held accountable to, a code of conduct which explicitly outlaws these practices 
  • Schools should have accessible child friendly reporting mechanisms, and children and their parents must have trust that reports will be confidentially investigated 
  • Children to be aware of their rights to safety at school and for this to be respected by all stakeholders.

At a local level they ran an awareness raising campaign aimed at children to help teach them about their rights. They designed posters which were displayed in areas where students hang out and broadcast a series of radio shows. 

At a national level the group were successful in getting the Ministry of Education to send a memorandum to all head teachers about preventing the practices in their classrooms. 

The group also raised awareness of the issue on a global stage. They twice spoke at the UN in Geneva: once giving the keynote speech at a UNICEF event on Education in Emergencies, and also at a Day of General Discussion on Children as Human Rights Defenders. They also raised the issue in the UK press, with articles in The Times, The Independent and The Evening Standard.

Hear more about the group’s work and their recommendations for change by downloading the full and summary reports.

Download the reports

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