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Marieke Hopman

Marieke Hopman

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10 november 2017

CAR: sharing the research results #2

10 november 2017 | By | No Comments

Tuesday 7 November
When I arrived in the Ledger (fancy) hotel in the morning to use the internet, I had to walk around the red carpet that was laid out because, apparently, the president was there with about every minister, ambassador, consultant and other authority that matters even a little bit. They were gathered for a conferencIMG_0555e organized by the United States, something on how they battled corruption in Seattle and how this could be used as a model for CAR (which seems doubtful to me seeing the extremely different contexts,and then think about the fact that for this conference the complete governance of the country was stopped for 2 days as everyone of any position was at the event…). Anyway, what a chance! Went there to talk to people and met all kinds of high placed officials who were all very interested in my research. And I mean VERY interested. I did not have enough copies  of the research report but people sat down just to read it on the spot, and actually started truly reading it rather than scanning. Tried getting in touch with the president to discuss the subject or at least give him a copy. Many people were mobilized to help me do so and we got to the chief of staff, but at the end of the day it seemed to come down to the fact that he wasn’t interested. IIMG_0557n the afternoon I visited the national radio Ndeke Luka for the second time, as I was invited by a journalist. When I came in I found out that apparently we were recording an interview right away. i tried to quickly take some notes and prepare a story (if you have 15mins to talk to the CAR people about this subject, what do you say?? – Yes you can imagine I was pretty tense about it). Then wheIMG_0565n we had our headphones on, technician in place etc, first thing the guy asks me is whether I have a boyfriend and if I’d be willing to marry him. Thank god that after that uncomfortable interval we had a normal, quite good interview (I think). It was my first time in French so that scared me a little – what if I don’t understand the question the journalist asks? – but it was fine. I spoke mostly about how we should change the education system to be more peaceful and to raise children in a spirit of peace rather than corruption and violence. In the evening I met with an employee of an i nternational NGO, who works on education in CAR on a high level. I was really eager to talk to him and share the research results, but at the end of the day it seemed like there was not much I could share with him because he felt too restrained by the system of his organization to actually change anything. Most things that are going wrong when it comes to international intervention on education in CAR, seems to be the result of a failing (international) humanitarian aid structure –  at least, according to this person.

Wednesday 8 November
Started my day meeting with a group of education inspectors at the Ecole Normale Superieure (ENSIMG_0585 (1)). I was again quite nervous because it was my first time “teaching” and discussing with local people in such a setting. These are people who work in education all through the country, their job is mostly to write reports about the state of education for government. This gathering was GREAT. I spoke about the importance of their work, the importance of sharing true information in their reports, of whom to share this information with, and of how to help the teachers and children in the schools they visit. I recommended talking to children to get true information and spoke about the importance of ethics and anonymity. Afterwards duriIMG_0584ng the discussion so many people contributed, sharing thoughts and issues and frustrations. It was clear (what a relief) that my research was of great use to them, especially the discussion we were having. One thing that really struck me was, when I spoke about adapting the education system to CAR reality/context to make it more relevant (including teaching in Sango) a guy stood up and more or less shouted into the room “She is right! Look at us! We are not proud of our country! Imagine, we need a WHITE GIRL to ask us why we are not teaching our children in our own language?!”

Thursday 9 November
Started my day teaching and discussing education in CAR with primary school teachers, and their teacIMG_0604hers, at the Centre Pedagogique (CPR). Again a very different target group, as they are the people actually standing in the classroom. And again it was GREAT. We had some really good and open discussions about the use of violence in the classroom, and discussed possible alternatives to keep order (such as alternative punishments and positive enforcement). The teachers were very attentive, writing down all practical things we discussed and asking many questions. AnotheIMG_0599r thing we discussed was practical things they could do to make their math a nd language lessons more interesting and relevant. For example instead of “50-25″ why not say “I go to the market with 50 CFA and I want to buy an orange of 25 CFA. How much do I have left after?”. After teaching we quikly left for radio Guira, the CAR radio station managed and paid for by the UN mission (MINUSCA). Here we did a 45min interview, of me together with my two research assistants Bonheur anIMG_0613d Petrouchka. This was great also because in this way, we were able to do the interview in both French and Sango. What was difficult however was the journalist asking me whether or not to use the chicotte (whip) in the classroom. She clearly thought it was not violent at all. I don’t want to be the white girl who says: don’t use the chicotte, because then people will not take me seriously. But I don’t want to say “use the chicotte” either…so what to do? I ended up saying that the people in CAR in my opinion, need to consider the relation between violence in the classrooms and their wish to have peace in the country, and I referred to the chicotte historically being an instrument used by the colonizers on black slaves… At the end of the day I met with someone from the World Bank working on education in CAR. Had a little time to tell her about my research findings and give her the report, hoping it will make a difference. Also shared my critique of their latest plan for “creating peace in CAR”, which focuses too much on quick results through quantitative and practical means, rather than a more profound change. How would you create peace in a country that has not known peace for at least 25 years..?

Marieke Hopman

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7 november 2017

Back in CAR to share the results on child’s right to education

7 november 2017 | By | No Comments

Dear all,

Here’s a quick overview of what has happened the first days of my mission to share the research results and try to do something positive for the child’s right to education in the Central African Republic.

Saturday and Sunday 4 & 5 November
Arrived in the morning and was greeted by my research assistant Petrouchka. After we left the suitcases full of research reports in the hotel room, we first went shopping for clothes (for which I’d  had no space in the overfull suitcases). Other things to do were to set up internet and phone connection, and get in touch with different people I know in Bangui.
When in the evening I returned to the hotel, I found the apple I left on the table eaten and even my container with vitamin pills attacked. It turned out the room was full of rats. I decided to accept this fact for aIMG_0515t least one night (even though the floor was filled with rat excrement and urine,). However, at 4 AM I woke up because one of the rats had entered my bed and started eating my hand. So I decided to move out.

The next day I discovered that in my hurry and shock of leaving the room, I’d left behind the money I’d taken (because there used to be no ATMs in CAR), which I’d hidden in the room. I went back and….it was stolen.

Monday 6 november

Finally a work day – time to get going! Got up extra early to start working early. But of course things are not as quick in CAR as one would wish – so my moto taxi driver turned out to run out of gas so we had to walk to the gas station and wait in line… Finally got to start at 7AM. Content of the day:IMG_0536

– Visit conseiller mr. Villecroix (employee of the ministry of Education). He helped me set up many other meetings, really helpful!
– Visited two schools for becoming-teachers and education inspectors.Met with directors and set up presentations / discussions for their students.
– Visit the Imam to give him the report and establish contact and make plans for cooperation on the sharing of the results.
– Visit the national radio station Ndeke Luka to see if we can make radio emission about the research. They were very interested and we made some great plans!
– Spoke to another journalist for international media
IMG_0552– While moving from meeting to meeting, got completely soaked by the rain :(

 

 

 

(on the moto we couldn’t find the house of the Imam so this kid jumped on to show us the way)IMG_0550

 

 

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Marieke Hopman

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6 november 2017

Publicatie rapport recht van het kind op onderwijs in CAR

6 november 2017 | By | No Comments

Beste allen,

Hieronder vindt u mijn populair-wetenschappelijke onderzoeksrapport over het recht van het kind op onderwijs in de Centraal Afrikaanse Republiek. Links de Engelse versie, rechts de Franse (klik op de gewenste afbeelding)! Mocht iemand vragen hebben, neemt u aub contact op via marieke.hopman@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

voorkant rapport frans

voorkant rapport engels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marieke Hopman

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12 september 2017

SIGN UP HERE

12 september 2017 | By | No Comments

The new field research on the child’s right to nationality has officially begun! As we are dealing with a politically sensitive matter, we will not be posting on social media. So, click here to sign up for updates! We are excited to share our experiences with you.

Marieke Hopman

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5 september 2017

Good news!

5 september 2017 | By | 2 Comments

Dear all,prize 1

Some good news: yesterday, during Maastricht University’s opening of the Academic Year, I won the Action Research Competition!!! This means I get € 3.000, which enables me to go back to the Central African Republic to share the research results. My wish is to start a national dialogue on what we can do to improve education in the CAR, together with the CAR minister of education.
prize 2
You can see the video of the winning pitch here!

 

 

Marieke Hopman

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3 augustus 2017

CAR report: the solution (for now)

3 augustus 2017 | By | No Comments

Dear all,

After my last blog 2 days ago about my dilemma surrounding the publication of my research report on the right to education in the CAR, I got so many replies!! Thank you all so much for all your emails and suggestions. Once again it can be so great to find that there are people who do care, and that I am not at all alone in my mission to help these kids. So thank you.

Today I had a really good meeting with the media&communication experts of Maastricht University. They advised me – and I would never have thought of this myself – to first go back to the CAR and take a small first step with implementing the research results, which is to start up a dialogue on education based on my research findings. Then after I can come back and (hopefully) share a story of “change is possible, and this is the first step, based on this research report” with the media, instead of a cliche story of “look at these poor children in Africa”.

So, I contacted both the CAR minister of education and his adviser to see if they are still interested in cooperation, and if indeed they can provide me with a visa and a place to stay. They said yes, and so I booked my ticket: flying out 4th of November. This time I will stay in Bangui only, and only for a short time – but it will be a first step, and after I think it will be up to other people to carry on with the project, using the research data and working for a longer period in CAR to continue this change. As should be the role of the researcher (or, in the words of my wise and caring father, in reply to my blog: “I think you overstretch your responsibility here … you are not GOD himself”).

On the practical side, this means that I still have to find funding for translation, travelling back and, if possible, graphic design of the report. To find this funding I received some good ideas from some of you, which I will pursue over the coming period. And I’ll definitely do what I can to win the university’s competition…3000 euros, fingers crossed!! I will also need to bring printed copies to CAR, but I guess I will simply use the university printers, put the report in cheap folders and fill up my suitcase with these home printed copies.

Thanks again for all your input and advises, I will definitely keep you up to date!!

Marieke Hopman

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1 augustus 2017

CAR report: a dilemma

1 augustus 2017 | By | 2 Comments

Dear all,

I am coming to the end of my case study on the child’s right to education in the Central African Republic, and slowly starting on the last case study in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Of course part of my efforts are directed to trying to make as much of a difference for CAR children as possible based on my research results.

To this purpose, I have written a research report on the case study which includes advise for different actors involved such as NGOs, politicians but also teachers. Together with the CAR minister of education I wrote a plan on how we could use the research data to really make a change in the CAR – a plan that involved organizing a national dialogue on the national radio and in different villages, translating the research report into Sango and printing and distributing the report. However, by now I have approached quite a few different actors (NGOs, political actors) with this plan and so far it seems that no one is willing to finance and/or execute it.children following class outside

Today I got a phone call from a journalist – I have been getting quite a few of those; the media seems to be very interested in the report. I have been holding them back, telling them to wait for the publication of the report. However, today this journalist told me that if I don’t publish soon, the media will have no more interest because it will have been too long since I was in the CAR.

So here’s the dilemma: currently I do not have the money to
– pay for the graphic design of the book (which I think is crucial for anyone to read the report) (costs about € 3.500)
– pay for the printing of the report (costs at least € 5.000 – 7.000)
– pay for being able to go back to the CAR and present the research results so that it can actually have an impact in the country (costs at least € 2.000)
– pay for the translation of the report from English to French (costs € 600)

I signed up for a call for action research of Maastricht University, to win € 3000 to be able to help the children in the CAR, but I will only hear at the end of August whether I have even been selected to compete for the prize in September. Another crowdfunding is not feasible at this point either, since my students are already preparing a crowdfunding for the Cyprus case which also still needs funding.

So what to do??

  1. Wait until I find a sponsor for this part of the project and give up on (at least part of) media attention for the research
  2. Publish the report online early September, and reach out to media, with or without graphic design, or even print it – I could cover these costs from my research budget at the Maastricht University Children’s Rights Research Fund, and hope for the best in trying to get to the end of the PhD without serious financial shortage
  3. Do I go back to CAR to share the research results or not?? I feel that if I don’t, in a way, it feels like it has all been for nothing. I do not think that international attention for the case will really change anything for CAR children.

So if anyone has a great idea about what to do, or a very rich uncle who is looking for a great purpose for about € 10.000 –  €15.000 (all reported on and controlled by the independent Maastricht University Children’s Rights Research Fund), please share!!!

Marieke Hopman

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15 mei 2017

Upcoming event: being young in times of conflict

15 mei 2017 | By | No Comments

Dear all,

Just a short message to let you know, and invite you to, an event where I will be speaking on the 1st of June. The event is titled “Being young in times of conflict: Readings from the Central African Republic“. As the organizers write: “While rebel-leaders and combatant- voices tend to reach our media sources, the voices of ‘ordinary’ young people have difficulty being heard both within the country and abroad”.

In addition, today the children’s rights index 2017 has come out today. This index ranks how countries adhere to and are equipped to improve children’s rights. CAR has been ranked LAST IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

So, even more reason to take an interest in the young people of this country!! You can read about, and register for the event here.

 

Marieke Hopman

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28 april 2017

Overzicht inkomsten en uitgaven 2014-2016

28 april 2017 | By | No Comments

Beste allen,

Hierbij deel ik graag met jullie een overzicht van alle inkomsten en uitgaven van het onderzoek, over de periode 2014-2016. Zoals je kunt zien, komt het meeste geld binnen wanneer ik onderwijs geef en projecten coördineer – dit zijn werkzaamheden die ik doe, in ruil waarvoor instellingen een donatie overmaken naar het onderzoeksfonds. Een belangrijk deel van de inkomsten komen van donaties – heel veel dank daarvoor!!

overview costs income

Het grootste deel van de uitgaven bestaat uit de beurstoekenning (een maandelijks bedrag van € 1.630. Dit bedrag zal gelijk blijven voor de hele onderzoeksperiode, resulterend in jaarlijks < € 2.500 lager dan een reguliere PhD medewerker). Reiskosten en overige kosten bestaan uit kosten voor de twee veldonderzoeken (transport, vertaler, overnachting, etc) en wat kosten gemaakt voor het onderzoek zelf, zoals de aanschaf van boeken. Voor een meer gedetailleerd overzicht van alle kosten, zie:

Als u kinderrechten onderzoek wilt steunen, kunt u hier een donatieformulier invullen

 

Marieke Hopman

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13 april 2017

Published: Lipstick Law!

13 april 2017 | By | No Comments

Beste allen,

Met veel plezier kondig ik aan dat een stukje van het theoretische frame van mijn onderzoek – waarbij ik pleit om wetten te begrijpen door niet alleen de wetboeken te bestuderen, maar ook te kijken naar de regels die bepalen hoe mensen leven – is gepubliceerd in de Journal of Legal Pluralism!

Je kunt het artikel hier gratis lezen. Kijk aub ook even onderaan naar de “acknowledgments”!

Een korte verdere update; de komende 2 weken rond ik zowel het rapport over onderwijs in CAR, als het academische artikel over wetten in CAR, af. Daarna hoop ik een uitgebreide nieuwsbrief te sturen, met een update over afeglopen werkzaamehen en financiële verantwoording van kosten en baten over 2016. Dus u hoort snel weer van mij!