APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Goal: Male and female students alike attend school equally, come to class regularly, learn to read and do basic math, benefit from a learning environment that promotes their social and emotional wellbeing, and--for youth--acquire the vocational and life skills they need to pursue safe, sustainable livelihoods.
Objectives: Help the Congolese Ministry of Education to develop and implement in-service teacher training programs based on social and emotional learning principles; programs will lead to better teaching, improved reading and math learning, and improvements in students' psychosocial wellbeing; Strengthen communities' role in helping children and youth--especially girls-- access education; Provide out-of-school youth relevant vocational and livelihoods training.
Principles: Evidence-based, evidence-generating design: The IRC's project design is based on exhaustive review of current and past education programs in DRC, as well as existing research on social and emotional learning. In addition, the project includes a rigorous research component that will generate valuable learning for the humanitarian field; Sustainability: The IRC is working closely with the Ministry of Education to strengthen existing systems and build the capacity of government, civil society, and communities themselves to provide quality education. The IRC's model incorporates technology, peer learning, and mentoring to build educator skills on an ongoing basis; Gender: The IRC recognizes the challenges that Congolese girls face in accessing education. The IRC will promote gender parity in school leadership; build teachers' skills to understand and address girls' needs, as well as prevent abuse and exploitation; strengthen women and girls' voices in community decision-making related to education; help women's and girls' community groups advocate for gender parity at schools; engage out-of-school young women in vocational and livelihoods training; and provide stipends to girls and young mothers in vocational programs to help them secure food, housing, and child care.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
In 2011 - 2012 the IRC will:
Target 200 schools for construction, rehabilitation and other improvements; 60,000 students will benefit; Pilot new teacher training programs for 480 teachers in 80 schools; 24,000 primary school students will benefit; Engage 865 youth in accelerated learning or literacy courses; Develop school improvement plans with 200 parents' associations and school management committees; disburse small grants to carry out improvements.
In Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 53% of the population is under age 18. Education for these young people is critical to DRC's success as the country struggles to recover from decades of armed conflict, but the education system has been decimated by years of extreme poverty, war, and neglect. Education is especially crucial for girls, who are desperately in need of the stability, safety, and new opportunities that schooling can provide.
Across the country, 4.4 million children--2.5 million of them girls--are not in school (UNICEF). Only 47% of girls make it through grade five, compared to 52% of boys (World Bank, 2008). In a country where discrimination and violence against women continues to be a major challenge to development, girls face many barriers to education: lack of access to resources for school fees and materials, early marriage and pregnancy, few female teachers, and sexual harassment in the classroom (World Bank, 2008).
Children and youth in DRC have been traumatized by years of war and displacement. Many have lost loved ones, homes, and familiar communities. Education can be a powerful stabilizing force of healing for these children, providing a supportive and caring environment where they can begin to feel safe again. Properly trained, teachers, school administrators, and community groups can make the classroom a place of healing and recovery. And research from around the world has shown that not only can education support emotional healing, but children learn better when their emotional needs are met.
The IRC has made a commitment to help 450,000 of these vulnerable young people access quality education, setting them and their families and communities on a path out of poverty, towards peace.