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2016 augustus

Marieke Hopman


27 augustus 2016

Wat als je van oma niet naar school mag?

27 augustus 2016 | By | No Comments


Max (8): “Het is belangrijk om te studeren. Soms zegt mijn oma ‘s ochtends dat ik moet werken op het veld. Als ik zeg dat ik naar school wil, slaat ze me met een bos takken. Van de littekens op mijn benen zijn sommigen van die takken, en sommigen van als ik speel en val. Ik sta vaak op als het nog donker is, voordat iedereen wakker wordt. Ik poets m’n tanden en ben als eerste op school.”


Kinderen in de Centraal Afrikaanse Republiek gaan vaak niet, of onregelmatig naar school en het grootste deel van de bevolking kan niet lezen of schrijven. Eén van mijn belangrijkste onderzoeksvragen is waarom het recht van deze kinderen op onderwijs geschonden wordt.

Tot nu toe blijkt dat eigenlijk alle kinderen hier heel graag leren, liefst op school. Er zijn echter heel veel factoren die dat belemmeren. Het verhaal van Max is typerend. Ik was erg onder de indruk van deze jongen; wat een autonomie en wilskracht laat hij zien! En ook dat is tot nu toe typerend voor de kinderen in de CAR.

Marieke Hopman


23 augustus 2016

Update #4, 15-19 August: Bambari

23 augustus 2016 | By | No Comments

On tuesday 15th August we were supposed to leave for Bambari at 16.00. Unfortunately there were some problems at the bank (they had no cash), and it got later and later … In the end we left after 18.00 and had to drive to Sibut in the dark, which felt a bit unsafe. Driving in the dark, knowing there might be armed groups around ready to attack and loot the car, you start looking at the road differently. You find yourself watching the hands of people on the side of the road; are they carrying guns? Do they wear amulets (which they believe protects them from bullets)? Fortunately, other than that we killed a pig that was crossing the road, nothing happened.

The next day departure for Bambari at 5.30. The road was again very beautiful, and very bumpy. We stopped along the way so that I could do some interviews. One village chief explained to me that the children in his village could not go to school, because the school was in the neighboring village and the chiefs don’t get along. So the children are not allowed access.

We arrived in Bambari in the late afternoon. Bambari is the second most important city in the country, especially because of its diamond mines. The city is currently divided into two halves, one anti-balaka and one UPC (ex-Seleka) side. MINUSCA, the UN troops, guard the bridge in between. This is why we went for drinks in the bar next to the bridge, even if the music was too loud to be able to talk :-).

Wednesday morning I started by going to the IDP (“Internally Displaced Persons”, meaning people who fled their homes yet stayed in the country) site. There are several IDP sites in and around Bambari, however most of them do not have any schools, and children have not had education for years. I chose to visit a site where they do have an operational school. In addition to interviews, I got to follow a class (see video below). Strikingly, although this education is completely free and even school supplies are paid for by NGOs, in this class almost 20% of the students was absent.

In the afternoon, I did an interview with the Imam of the central Mosque, on the Muslim/UPC side of the city. He explained that at first, due to the fighting it was too unsafe for children to walk to the public school on the other side of the city. Therefore the armed group UPC decided to build its own school. These days, allegedly, they manage a public school, open to both Christian and Muslim children, paid for by the General Ali Darass.

What’s more, we walked over to the school and now that it’s the holidays, they are using the school for adult education. In a country with an extremely high percentage of illiteracy, stumbling across this adult education felt almost like a miracle. The Imam himself told us that he had never been to school and was now taking his first lessons (in yet another location than the one we saw). Word has it that even the General himself is taking lessons, learning how to read and write!

And this coming from an armed group that is normally know for committing human rights violations…Seeing the adults studying, and learning about their investment of money in quality, public education – something the CAR government (at least, the previous governments) does not always seem ready to do – totally blew my mind and especially confused my ideas about right and wrong. DSCN0681

Marieke Hopman


20 augustus 2016

“Ik weet niet eens hoe ik mijn naam moet schrijven”

20 augustus 2016 | By | No Comments

In a CAR village I spoke to Kafe (12). Kafe has attended a few years of education but then had to stop, both because of insecurity issues – the walk to school is about 2km, and when armed forces are running around this is particularly unsafe – and because his mother wanted him to work in the field with her. He explained that he wanted to go back to school, because “I don’t even know how to write my own name, I only know the first two letters”. Together we figured out the other letters and this resulted in him writing his name! (We also wrote his last name, but I left it out for anonymity reasons).  The story is not exceptional and shows the difficulty of children’s rights to education in the CAR; there is a big problem of access, and even if you do get to a school, the quality of education is often very poor. Kafe himself is going back to school next week, after his aunt offered to pay his school fees (about $4.5).

Marieke Hopman


12 augustus 2016

Marieke Hopman


7 augustus 2016

Marieke Hopman


2 augustus 2016

Aangekomen in de Centraal Afrikaanse Republiek

2 augustus 2016 | By | 2 Comments

Dear all, This is just a quick message to tell you all that I have arrived safely in the Central African Republic last Wednesday and I am busy setting up the research. So far I have done 3 official interviews, and many unofficial conversations on children’s rights to education in the CAR. It promises to be an interesting research, among other things because a qualitative research on the right to education has not yet been done yet in the country – at least as far as the people who I have been working with know (or from what I’ve been able to find).

Me and my colleague Bonheur and some of his cousins

I am so lucky to be working here with CARITAS (NGO), who have been incredibly supportive of the research and are providing me with all kinds of logistic and practical help (also with security issues as this conflict affected area is far from safe) as well as the chance to exchange thoughts and experiences. They really work closely with the locals – in fact, there is only one European employee I have met so far – which is just perfect for my research purposes. Hopefully this will enable me to really get to understand the child’s right to education from the inside out, even though I never feel more white and different than in Africa. I am hoping to be able to share some more about the research soon, in between organizing research interviews, visiting places, waiting waiting waiting (it is Africa after all), seeing if the internet is working … So far the plan for next week is: to visit M’Poko refugee camp, the Bangui pediatric hospital, the ministry of education, Kaga Bandoro and the orphanage in Bangui. Which is probably slightly unrealistically ambitious, especially at local (sometimes very frustrating) pace… On the bright side: connecting to children so far has been very powerful and provided me with a lot of inside information. Some of which makes it hard to sleep at night.