Updated Apr 23, 2019

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Access to Education

War Child Canada in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Ashley Meek

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Stage 5: Scaling

304 teachers and headmasters have been trained on national curricula and classroom management. 225 women were provided literacy and numeracy courses, and now run small-scale businesses as sole breadwinners in their households. 2710 community members reached through community outreach sessions on girls' education. 600 participants in educational community dialogues on women's rights. 1700 participants in community sensitization session on human rights, education, protection and safety.
War Child has rehabilitated and re-equipped 38 schools that had been destroyed as a result of conflict. Since 2005, War Child has provided 12,600 children with increased access to education. Of these children, 2,500 out-of-school children were provided numeracy and literacy classes to facilitate their re-entry into the standard education system.

Focus Areas:

Curriculum, Housing and Infrastructure, Rule of Law and Human Rights and 3 MoreSEE ALL

Curriculum, Housing and Infrastructure, Rule of Law and Human Rights, Basic Education, Teacher Development and Training and Human Centered DesignSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Congo, Democratic Republic of theSEE LESS

Country Implemented In


Due to the ongoing conflict, over 7.3 million children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are not in school, 3.9 million of whom are girls. Only 60% of girls complete primary school and 35% complete lower secondary school. Reasons include inability to pay school fees, lack of sanitation facilities, early marriage, and safety risks for girls involved in travelling long distances to reach schools. War Child Canada believes that using radio-based education can address these barriers.



War Child Canada has tested an innovative approach to secondary level education using Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) for vulnerable girls aged 12-16 in conflict-affected environments. While IRI is traditionally used to supplement formal education within schools, War Child Canada adapted IRI for distance education. Students gather in their communities five times a week to participate in the lessons, reducing barriers to girls’ education. Classes are facilitated by Education Assistants (all from local communities) who completed training in IRI teaching methodology, child protection, and facilitation techniques. Community Education Committees provide ongoing classroom support, promote girls’ right to education and aid in the monitoring and evaluation of classes. This community-driven approach creates a supportive environment where girls can receive quality education. An external evaluation concluded that this model encourages enrolling girls in school and increasing mobilization of community support for girls' education. The pilot reached 300 learners, with over 80% successfully completing the program and receiving transcripts for Standards 1 and 2 (the first two grades of high/secondary school) from the DRC’s Ministry of Education, allowing them to re-enroll into the formal school system at the next level, where possible. Students and parents voiced their support of the project, “This is my daughter’s last chance to finish high school and get her diploma."

Target Beneficiaries

Meet Maggy, a 16 year old girl and student participating in War Child Canada’s IRI program. ”I dropped out of my studies since my father had decided to enroll my brothers first. My salvation was the arrival of War Child Canada’s radio-program in my village. I’m impatiently waiting for the reopening of the IRI centre.” Girls depend on the free and safe educational approach to learn and will not be able to continue their studies unless the IRI program includes all grades of high school (Standards 1-6). This project will target 1,000 out-of-school girls aged 12-18 in eastern DRC, a population that, due to their age and gender, is among the most vulnerable in the country. During the feedback phase, experts and communities expressed the desire to include boys in the programming as well. While this project will still focus on girls' education, moving forward the needs of boys will also be considered and incorporated into project design to ensure increased access to education for all.

Mission and Vision

War Child envisions a world where no child knows war. War Child’s mission is to help children in war-affected communities reclaim their childhood through access to education, opportunity and justice.

Innovation Description

War Child, in conjunction with local Congolese organizations, the Ministry of Education, radio stations, and community members in South Kivu province, is rebuilding education infrastructure by repairing and reopening schools, offering child-focused programming, and training teachers.

War Child Canada uses an institutionalized monitoring strategy for all its programs in conflict states. The strategy includes performance indicators and measurement tools to assess basic learning outcomes, program quality, enrolment, and learner satisfaction. Additional tools are being used for the IRI project to assess the quality of the lessons and broadcasts, facilitator quality, student satisfaction and the applicability of the overall model for scale-up and replication.

Competitive Advantage

This project promotes a community-based education to increasing girls’ access to education. Firstly, it will provide educational opportunities within communities and supported by communities, eliminating the need for girls to walk long distances. Secondly, it will operate on a flexible schedule that has been designed - through community assessments - around the girls’ daily schedules and seasonal calendars. Thirdly, it will work directly with communities to identify not only safe spaces for girls™ education but also local Education Assistants whom the community will play a role in selecting. Additionally, as classes are radio based, if conflict escalates and communities/families are displaced, they can continue listening to the classes from their new location. Finally, to ensure sustainability and to address root causes of gender inequality in education, communities are engaged in the importance of education, particularly for girls, through extensive outreach.

Planned Goals and Milestones

War Child Canada targets project activities in hard-to-reach and under-served communities. Community consultations, consultations with local partners, community mapping, baseline surveys, and the development of needs-based/vulnerability selection criteria are all approaches used by War Child Canada to ensure that the program is accessible to vulnerable populations and that they are effective at reaching target populations.
War Child Canada has been established in the DRC since 2005, with initial program activities focused on school rehabilitation and teacher training. The program has evolved to provide catch-up learning to conflict-affected children to enable them to re-enter school, radio and journalism activities for children and youth, literacy programs for women, and community outreach on the importance of education.


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New Country Implemented In
Congo, Democratic Republic of the