D.R. Congo’s Child Miners Swap Tools for Books in a Free Education Drive

Enrollment of child miners into schools has witnessed a considerable increase since the introduction of free education in D.R. Congo.

Statistics from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that 6 million children, almost one in four were out of school in 2018 in Congo, which was one of the last countries in the world to introduce free primary education.

With free education, more child miners in D.R. Congo swap tools for books.

The new scheme, which costs more than a third of its $6.8 billion budget, has enabled 4 million of these children to go to school, according to the education ministry, but poverty keeps millions more out of school.

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Head of child protection at the Association of Women for Community Development in Kipushi, Philippe Nyange says thousands of children still work at the mine sites due to a lack of school kits.

With funding from UNICEF, the NGO has provided more than 270 child labourers with school kits containing school bags and writing materials, which were quickly snapped up by an eager crowd of parents and children. It hopes to issue another 230 kits later this year.

According to the International Labour Organization, more than 1 million children worldwide work in mining, as demand for minerals used in cars, cosmetics and electronics increase.

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The United Nations has pledged to end child labour by 2025 and considers mining a priority target as arduous tasks such as diving into muddy wells, digging rocks and carrying heavy loads put children’s health and safety at risk.

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