Do the children go to school?
Unfortunately, not all children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo go to school. Exact numbers of how many children start school are not known. But we know that only 68 percent of children finish elementary school.
Many schools were also destroyed in the civil wars that raged in the country between 1996 and 2009. Then there is the great poverty in the country. Parents cannot pay for the school uniform for their child or send them to work so that they can earn money.
Schools are officially free, but since most schools are not supported by the state, parents have to pay the teachers. Most of the schools are church sponsored. There are Catholic and Protestant schools as well as schools of the Kimbaguists or Islam. There are also too few teachers, so that the classes are overcrowded.
So many young people cannot read and write. Girls are even more affected here than boys. With the end of the civil war in 2009, the situation has slowly improved, but it is far from good.
The primary school lasts six years, the secondary school another six years. However, only every third child visits them.
How are the children in the country?
Many children live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country located in Africa according to calculatorinc.com. 46 percent of the population are under 14 years old. The average age of all residents is only 17 years. Because many children are born, most boys and girls have many siblings. On average there are six children in each family.
Unfortunately, many parents also died in the civil wars. Their children became orphans. Many others lost their parents to AIDS. It is estimated that 290,000 children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. There are said to be four million orphans in the country! Some of them live on the street. They try to survive by begging.
Poor and sick
Unfortunately, many children are not doing so well. The country is one of the poorest in the world. Many children are often hungry. Sometimes there is nothing to eat for days. Those who are poor get sick more quickly – and may not be able to afford medication. Children in particular are susceptible to malaria, but also to pneumonia and diarrhea.
Many children – 27 percent of 5 to 14 year olds – work. It can be very different work. Some children look after the cattle, others help with the harvest, sell goods in the market or on the street.
Many children also work in mining and look for gold, diamonds, coltan and cobalt. It was only in 2016 that it became known that a particularly large number of children in the Congo toil in cobalt mining. Cobalt is a metal that is used in the manufacture of smartphones and laptops. Seven-year-old children work in the mines up to twelve hours a day. Your wages: one to two dollars a day. This work is not only too strenuous for children, it is also harmful to health. The dust inhaled during work damages the lungs.
Child soldiers in the Congo
In the period of the Congo Wars up to 2009, but also afterwards, many, many children were kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and forced to fight as child soldiers for one of the warring factions. Both the country’s military and the many rebel groups recruited children for their purposes. Despite the end of the war, there were still child soldiers in 2013.
The children learned to shoot and were forced to kill. They were also threatened and ill-treated. Incidentally, although most of the child soldiers are boys, girls have also been abducted. They also had to plunder villages and shoot people. Had they refused, the child soldiers would have been shot themselves.
Eating in Democratic Republic of Congo
What do people in DR Congo eat?
The most important food is cassava. The roots of the cassava plant can be boiled or fried, but they can also be processed into flour. Then you can pound it into fufu or make manioc bread called kwanga wrapped in leaves. Fufu is rolled into small balls and dipped in a sauce. The leaves can also be processed. Chopped up and braised in palm oil, they are made into Pondu.
Other foods are rice, corn, plantains, beans, sweet potatoes, okra pods and taro, also a tuber. Pineapples, mangoes, bananas, coconuts or papayas taste great as a snack.
Fish and meat
Meat is often used in stews. It comes from beef, chicken, pork or mutton. But game meat, the so-called bushmeat, is still on the menu. These can be crocodiles, buffalo, snakes, porcupines, antelopes, rats, monkeys or other animals from the rainforest. You are being hunted. The meat is usually much cheaper for buyers – even free if you hunt them yourself. Unfortunately, due to massive hunting, many animal species are also threatened with extinction. Another problem is that eating game meat can also transmit diseases to humans.
Fish that are fished in the country’s numerous rivers are also popular. Most of the time it is dried or salted to give it a longer shelf life.